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Jerry Doran basks in the autumn sunshine on his remote 171-acre spread in Tehama County as a black French bulldog he calls Honey Bear leaps up on the porch swing reserved for guests.
The marijuana he's been growing with Donna Will has been harvested, and she and her crew have been snipping and trimming in a nearby shed.
Guinea hens are everywhere, insurance against grasshoppers - they once ravaged an entire crop. Doran and Will say it's a lot of work and responsibility to provide for 10 patients, but it's important.
"I just want to see safe access to medicine," Doran said.
Twenty-five years ago, Doran was a passenger in a pickup that was rammed by a drunken driver in a Trans Am going 100 mph. Still in a wheelchair, he considers himself an advocate for two groups that often overlap - the disabled and medical marijuana users.
Hospitalized for 17 weeks after the crash, he ultimately found the powerful drugs doctors prescribed for pain and spasms were doing more harm than good. For him, cannabis proved a healthier alternative.
"I quit smoking, I quit drinking coffee," said Doran, 55. "I don't drink alcohol."
Will, 48, suffered three torn discs in her back in a fall nine years ago. The OxyContin she was prescribed early on was nearly as disabling as the pain.
"I couldn't even go to the grocery store," she said. "By using cannabis I didn't have to use it as much."
Not surprisingly, they're keeping a close watch as north state politicians in unprecedented numbers pass a variety of measures aimed at regulating the dispensing and cultivating of medical pot. As of last week, Redding, Anderson, Shasta Lake, Tehama County and Corning all had recently enacted or extended moratoriums on dispensaries.
On Tuesday, Tehama County supervisors will consider extending a temporary moratorium on dispensaries until late next year. A separate ordinance that would limit grow locations and the number of plants at each was proposed in July, but failed to win supervisors' approval. A revamped version of that proposal is almost finished and should soon be presented to supervisors, county officials said Friday.
Meanwhile, in November, Red Bluff's City Council will consider amending city zoning codes to specifically ban all marijuana cultivation and dispensing within city limits.
Local governments statewide are grappling with the voter-approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which allows patients with a doctor's recommendation to use and grow marijuana under certain conditions. While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the Justice Department announced a policy last week saying its prosecutors would back off from pursuing people complying with state laws.
Neither Doran nor Will sees the need for the flurry of measures recently passed. Too much regulation, they say, will only drive the price up and divert scant government resources from more pressing problems.
"(Proposition 215) was voted in by the voters and if they want to change it, it needs to be the voters of California to change the law," Will said.
Doran acknowledges that while some may be abusing the medical exemption - an oft-cited reason for stricter local laws - more ordinances aren't the answer.
"We police each other, almost," he said. "The medicinal patients, none of us wants to break the law."
He promotes more education on the issue, and because he believes people will use marijuana regardless, there's room for more discussion.
"We want to bring some common sense to the table," he said. "Let's all try to work together because it's going to be there."
Doran and Will say they have a good relationship with local law enforcement. When someone stole more than 2 pounds of marijuana from him 10 years ago, he said, he filed a police report and received more than $10,000 for the loss from his homeowner's insurance policy.
Doran also speaks with fondness of his late father, whom he persuaded to try cannabis with a vaporizer bag when he was stricken with cancer in his 70s. The elder Doran was initially reluctant.
"(But) during his sickness we were really able to grow close; he was able to see the benefit," he said. "I really wish we could have experienced that sooner."
Reporter Janet O'Neill can be reached at 225-8216 or at firstname.lastname@example.org