CA NORML News
Text of bill SB 420
A bill establishing statewide guidelines for Prop. 215 enforcement took effect on January 1, 2004. The bill, SB 420 by Sen. John Vasconcellos, was signed by outgoing Gov. Gray Davis just days after he lost the recall election.
SB 420, which reflects a compromise between patientsí advocates and law enforcement, includes controversial new state guidelines regarding how much marijuana patients may grow and possess without being subject to arrest. It also includes a voluntary patient identification card system and other provisions to protect patients and their caregivers from arrest.
The guidelines, which were hotly disputed by California NORML and other patientsí advocates, allow patients up to 6 mature or 12 immature plants and up to one-half pound of dried, processed marijuana. Patient advocates had pushed for more liberal guidelines, such as those adopted by Sonoma County, which allow up to 99 plants in a 100 square foot growing area plus 3 pounds of marijuana. The final guidelines were decided in a last-minute legislative deal by Attorney General Lockyer and Sen. Vasconcellos in order to get the bill passed.
In deference to local autonomy, SB 420 also allows counties and cities to establish higher - but not lower - guidelines if they so choose. Several localities have done so. It forces more restrictive counties, such as San Bernardino and Fresno, which have heretofore had "zero tolerance" policies, to honor the new statewide minimum standard.
The system is designed with safeguards to protect patient privacy like the current San Francisco ID card system. Police cannot identify whether persons are medical marijuana patients by their name or address, but only by a unique identification number appearing on their card.
Persons designated as "primary caregivers" are also be eligible for ID cards. Each patient may designate a single caregiver. Caregivers may receive reasonable compensation for their services. However, cultivation or distribution "for profit" are not authorized.
In a quirky provision, SB 420 forbids caregivers from having more than one patient unless all of them reside in the same "city or county" as the caregiver. This means that no one may be a caregiver for both a spouse and a parent if they happen to reside in different counties. California NORML attorneys believe that this is an unconstitutional restriction on Prop. 215.