420 Magazine Background

San Francisco Plans to Issue ID Cards

Thread starter #1


May 14,00
SF Ready to Issue ID Card For Medicinal Pot Users
By Edward Epstein, Chronicle Staff Writer
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco plans to issue its first identification cards for medicinal marijuana users within a month, officials said yesterday.
By issuing the cards through the Department of Public Health, the city will join Oakland, Mendocino County and Arcata in Humboldt County in issuing the voluntary cards that would allow
people to legally use and possess pot.
The fact that it has taken San Francisco almost four years to devise a program following California voters' 1996 passage of Proposition
215, the medicinal marijuana initiative, shows how difficult and complex the issue is. The proposition was designed to allow ill people to consume or grow pot with their doctors permission.
With the card, people can go to any of the many pot distribution clubs in the city to get their supply. Currently, each club registers
its own members. All the cards will cost $25.
The federal government insists that pot is still illegal, and medical pot users told a City Hall hearing called by Supervisor Mark Leno that San Francisco police are still arresting them.
The supervisors passed Leno's proposal in January authorizing the city to issue the cards, but it has taken long negotiations involving the Health Department, pot activists, Leno and city lawyers to work out the details.
People 18 and older can get the cards, good for as long as two years, by presenting valid identification, proof of city residence and a
valid doctor's statement containing a diagnosis. Young people 17 and under would have to follow similar rules, but would need to be
accompanied by their parents or guardians when applying. Leno conceded that the cards might not keep some police officers from making arrests.
``I continue to hear that there is still harassment by law enforcement,'' he said. ``That has to end.'' Leno said Police Chief Fred Lau has assured him that he wants his officers to stop citing medicinal pot users, ``But we know that
always doesn't translate into action on the street.''
Michael Foley said that about a week ago he was arrested for cultivating medicinal pot, even though he showed police his pot club ID card and a doctor's recommendation. ``The officer saw my card,'' Foley said. ``He said it didn't matter. I
couldn't cultivate pot. He said, `The way we get around this is to take you to federal court.' ''
Lau was not at the hearing, but Deputy Chief Earl Sanders said he will see that officers are trained about respecting the new city-issued ID cards. ``If this is what the citizens have come to
under the leadership of our civic leaders, then the police are bound to enforce it,'' he said.

©2000 San Francisco Chronicle