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County's Drug Rehab Agency To Issue Marijuana ID Cards

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The Shasta County agency charged with helping people break free from drugs
could soon begin issuing ID cards for medical marijuana patients.The Board
of Supervisors on Tuesday gave the Division of Alcohol and Drug Programs
the task of implementing a state law aimed at reducing prosecutions of
those who possess and use pot medicinally. The irony wasn't lost on David
Reiten, the program administrator.

"I think it could work closely together because from what we're hearing, a
lot of people are getting prescriptions to use marijuana who really don't
have a problem," he said. "So at least by coming here to get that card,
they'll be exposed to information regarding marijuana . . . and they'll
also be exposed to a place where, if they decide they need help, they can
get it."

Reiten's division was picked to administer the ID cards because it "already
has relationships with the medical community and law enforcement," said
Julie Hope, a senior administrative analyst.

Former Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill last year to create the ID cards,
which will be issued by the state Department of Health Services.

Cultivation, possession and use of marijuana are still crimes under federal
law, but a U.S. appeals court panel ruled recently that the federal law
does not apply to those who are allowed to smoke pot with a doctor's

The state health department will need four staff members and about $325,000
to start the program, spokesman Robert Miller has said. The program would
then support itself through users' fees.

Once the state begins the program, the county will verify applications from
Shasta County residents by requiring a physician's statement that the
patient has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition and that
medicinal use of marijuana is appropriate, Reiten said.

The county will also check to see that the attending physician has a
license in good standing, and will issue temporary cards for residents to
use until their IDs arrive from the state, he said.

Author: Tim Hearden, Record Searchlight
Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Copyright: 2004 Record Searchlight - The E.W. Scripps Co.
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