Legit medical pot growers to be identified in registry

After police confiscated 162 marijuana plants from a Taraval neighborhood home last week, a registry of certified medical cannabis growers in San Francisco will be put together by the Police Department and health officials.

The arrest has caused an uproar among medical marijuana advocates because the suspect provided pot to a dispensary and had papers that allowed him to grow the plants, according to members of Axis of Love, a collective of medicinal marijuana providers.

On June 10, police raided a home at 215 Crestmont Drive about 1:30 p.m., according to police. Officers arrested Cody Phillips, 28, and took the 162 plants, several bags of marijuana, cash and growing equipment.

Prosecutors charged the case and there was some confusion about the legitimacy of the grower’s papers, according to police Cmdr. John Loftus. The home also had problems with its electrical wiring, and PG&E was called to the house at one point.

There’s currently a citywide permitting process for medical dispensaries that includes hearings in front of city planners, but there’s no local registry for the growers who supply medical marijuana.

“We are hoping for some kind of guidelines so that they can register with the Department of Public Health,” Loftus said. “There is a large criminal element that grows marijuana illegally and does it for profit. We’re having problems distinguishing between the two.”

The Police Department has not been able to provide consistent numbers on marijuana arrests despite repeated requests from media organizations and an oversight committee formed in 2006 after The City passed legislation making marijuana offenses the lowest priority for police.

One member of the Marijuana Offenses Oversight Committee, Catherine Smith, said there have been 71 raids on grow houses in the past year. Many of those have come in the Taraval police district, which includes the Sunset district.

“That’s a lot of home invasions,” Smith told the Police Commission on Wednesday. “Some of them were warranted. Most of them were not.”

Police commissioners Petra DeJesus and Jim Hammer agreed with the idea, saying there should be a way to separate legitimate medical cannabis growers from illegal ones.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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