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State Resumes Medical Marijuana Id Card Program


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California Health Director Sandra Shewry announced Monday that the state has resumed its Medical Marijuana ID Card program.

After receiving legal advice from the California attorney general that operating the pilot program would not aid and abet marijuana users in committing a federal crime, Shewry directed staff of the California Department of Health Services ( CDHS ) to resume operations that were suspended on July 8.

"The state attorney general has reviewed this concern and said that California can issue ID cards to medical marijuana users without state employees facing prosecution for assisting in the commission of a federal crime," Shewry said. "Today ( Monday ) the state resumed operating the Medical Marijuana ID Card program."

But the attorney general also said that information received from applicants for medical marijuana ID cards may be obtained by federal officials to identify them for prosecution.

In response, CDHS will be modifying the ID card application to inform applicants that possession of marijuana remains a federal crime and information provided by them could be used for federal prosecution, Shewry said.

Shewry added that CDHS will ask the three counties that have issued state ID cards to notify all card-holders of their risk for federal prosecution.

The Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program was designed to provide patients an ID card that could be used as evidence that they had received a recommendation from their physician to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. The card can assist law enforcement officials in determining whether an individual using marijuana meets the requirements of the Compassionate Use Act, which says that with the recommendation of a physician, a patient may obtain and use marijuana for personal medical purposes.

On June 6, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against two California women who sought a decision that the federal government does not have jurisdiction to enforce federal law against individuals growing marijuana for their personal medical use. The court, however, determined that Congress does have the authority to prohibit local cultivation and use of marijuana.

Although the court's decision did not directly affect California's Compassionate Use Act, approved by voters in 1996, and state law, the decision raised questions about whether the state can legally conduct a program that assists in the violation of federal law. In an effort to clarify the issue, CDHS sought legal advice from the attorney general.

CDHS began pilot testing an identification card and registry system in three counties -- Amador, Del Norte and Mendocino -- in May. To date, 123 cards have been issued. With the resumption of the program, the pilot testing is scheduled to be completed at the end of this month and the program expanded statewide beginning Aug. 1.

Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2005 MediaNews Group, Inc.
Contact: editor@times-standard.com
Website: http://www.times-standard.com/


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On July 18, 2005, the California Department of Health Services resumed implementation of the Medical Marijuana Program and the issuance of identification cards to qualified patients and their designated primary caregivers. Please click on hyperlink below to access the Press Release and/or the All County Letter resuming the implementation of the Program.

Press Release #05-39

All County Letter - Medical Marijuana Program

In 1996, the voters of California passed Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act. Within California, the Act allows for the recommendation by a physician for the medical use of marijuana by a patient, and the cultivation, transportation and use of marijuana for medical purposes by patients and caregivers. The Compassionate Use Act exempts patients, caregivers and physicians who recommend the use of marijuana for medical purposes from criminal laws, punishment, or the denial of any rights or privileges. To address uncertainties and clarify the scope of the Act for patients, caregivers, law enforcement and others, Senate Bill (SB) 420 (Chapter 875, Statutes of 2003) was written into law in December of 2003 (see California Health and Safety Code, Article 2.5, Sections 11362.7 through 11362.83).

The Medical Marijuana Program (MMP), within the California Department of Health Services, was established in 2004 to facilitate the registration of qualified patients and their caregivers, through a statewide identification system. Participation in the program is voluntary for patients and the patient's primary caregiver. Through their county of residence, qualified patients and their caregivers may apply for and be issued an identification card. This card will be used to verify those patients and caregivers that have authorization to possess, grow, transport and/or use medical marijuana in California. To facilitate the verification of authorized cardholders, a registration database is available on the Internet: www.calmmp.ca.gov.

The costs of the Program are fee supported. Both the state and counties have authority to cover their expenses through application fees.

For further information on the Medical Marijuana Program, please e-mail us at: mmpinfo@dhs.ca.gov , or you may write to us at:

California Department of Health Services

Office of County Health Services

Attention: Medical Marijuana Program Unit

MS 5203

P.O. Box 997413

Sacramento, CA 95899-7413
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