Pot ID Card Program Shelved

Pot ID Card Program Shelved
Posted by CN Staff on July 09, 2005 at 07:27:58 PT
By Rong-Gong Lin II, Times Staff Writer
Source: Los Angeles Times
California health officials Friday suspended a pilot program that issues photo identification to medical marijuana users out of concern that a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could make the state and ID holders targets for federal prosecution. The action comes a month after the nation's high court ruled that the federal government could seize and destroy marijuana being used as medicine, regardless of state laws such as California's Proposition 215 that allow the drug's use by patients who have received a doctor's permission.
The state's Department of Health Services on Friday also asked Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer's office to determine whether the identification card program could potentially make patients and state staffers liable for prosecution because it identifies them as receiving marijuana or helping to facilitate marijuana use.Teresa Schilling, a spokeswoman for Lockyer, said the attorney general's office plans to review the issue and present an opinion as soon as it can.Once the health department receives the legal review, it will make its own decision on the future of the program. "We also wanted to ask [Lockyer] whether information gathered from card holders could potentially be used by federal law enforcement officers to identify medical marijuana users for prosecution," health services spokesman Ken August said.The agency also had concerns that a state-issued medical marijuana identification card could give patients a false sense of security and might lead them to believe they are protected from federal prosecutors, August said. The identification card program was approved by the state Legislature in 2003 and was intended to be used as a tool for state law enforcement officers to easily determine whether an individual is using marijuana for medicinal purposes under California's Proposition 215, August said. Snipped:Complete Article: Los Angeles Times (CA) Author: Rong-Gong Lin II, Times Staff WriterPublished: July 9, 2005Copyright: 2005 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Drug Policy Alliance Stops Issuing Drug ID Cards Suspends Medical Pot Card Program
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on July 11, 2005 at 08:25:47 PT
News Brief from The Associated Press
Medicinal Pot Users: Calif. 'Overreacted' To Court Decision
State Suspends Identification Card ProgramJuly 11, 2005SAN FRANCISCO -- California proponents of medicinal marijuana use say the state overreacted by suspending a program to provide identification cards to authorized patients. 
 The state health department acted because of the Supreme Court's ruling that federal law barring medicinal pot use takes precedence over state law. The department wants to hear from the state Attorney General on whether the ruling outlaws the ID program.Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled people who smoke marijuana on their doctor's recommendation can be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws. The court said federal law takes precedence over the laws of California and nine other states that permit medicinal pot smoking.Daniel Abrahamson, legal director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said the obvious answer is "no." He said the head of the health department should show "some backbone" and not be so cautious.But the health department is concerned the ID cards would give authorized users of medicinal marijuana a false sense of protection from federal prosecution and make the patients -- and department employees -- targets of federal investigators.California's pilot program for issuing the ID cards began in May in three counties. The cards have gone to 123 people so far.Other counties and cities that issue their own cards, such as San Francisco, are unaffected by the program's suspension.Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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