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Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014

SL man wants supervisors to decriminalize marijuana

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Serving tea for Alzheimers victim

A Storm Lake man Tuesday asked the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors to consider decriminalizing marijuana and to start a "Safe Ride" program to keep drunk drivers off the road.

Paul Peterson, a former Chicago attorney and originally from Storm Lake, said that, at his behest, a number of Illinois communities had adopted a prosecutorial discretion policy which essentially decriminalized possessing small quantities of marijuana.

Despite the progress he said he made in getting 16 Illinois towns to decriminalize marijuana, Peterson said the governor of Illinois stopped his efforts to decriminalize marijuana throughout the state.

"Because I lobbied him, all the doors slammed shut," Peterson said. Peterson said he had planned to obtain one ton of marijuana to manufacture a pill for medicinal use. However, a pharmaceutical lab that made a competing drug stopped those plans, Peterson said.

Peterson extols the virtues of medicinal marijuana use. "I know that this helps with cancer and with Alzheimer's," Peterson said. Unfortunately, said Peterson, "I can't get doctors involved because it's too controversial."

It was his efforts to decriminalize marijuana in Illinois, he said, that caused him to lose his law license in that state. "I doubt I will get my law license back until I win this war," Peterson said.

Rather than encouraging marijuana use, decriminalizing efforts in Illinois have worked, said Peterson.

He said those possessing 10 grams or less get a $50 ticket. "There are no repeat offenders," Peterson said. "As a result, there are some 10,000 to 15,000 kids that are not put into jail."

By an act of decriminalizing marijuana, Buena Vista County could become a world class leader, Peterson said.

Peterson was accompanied to the meeting by an elderly relative. He said he had provided marijuana-laced tea to treat the effects of Alzheimer's and, as a result, it "lifted a fog".

"I gave her one cup of tea and the symptoms went away," Peterson said.

While he does not favor youth using alcohol or marijuana, Peterson said, "I'm looking at the other end of the life spectrum" by advocating marijuana for Alzheimer's patients.

"I am on a healing mission," Peterson said. "There are world-class changes we could make without putting people in jail. What I'm trying to do is help you people move this along."

Peterson asked the Board to make him a resource to study decriminalization. "Don't worry about the feds," Peterson said. "You leave them to me. Whatever else you do is better than merely incarcerating" marijuana users, Peterson said.

Peterson also pushed for a Safe Ride program in which youth who have been drinking could call for a ride home. Similar Safe Ride programs in Illinois, said Peterson, "are helping kids from driving on the highway."

Peterson has been critical of the firing of assistant county attorney Dave Patton over an alleged party with underage drinking held at his home. Peterson had suggested that Patton be brought back and asked to head a program on Safe Rides and youth alcohol abuse prevention.

Supervisor Jim Gustafson told Peterson that the county was already working with Seasons mental health to establish an alcohol and drug mental health court. "We are making progress toward getting people out of jail and into treatment," Gustafson said, noting that the plan was for a "carrot-and-stick" approach.

After the meeting, Board Chair Bill Lanphere said he was not aware that a local government could at its own discretion use a reduced charge for marijuana possession.

"I was not aware that you could - if it is possible," Lanphere said. "We'll certainly talk about it and see if there's some merit in it, some meat in it."



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