Pubdate: Wed, 07 Mar 2007
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2007 Record Searchlight
Author: Tim Hearden
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Cost To Apply For Medical Pot Use ID Card Is $106

Shasta County supervisors used a proposed application fee increase 
Tuesday as a chance to voice their displeasure at a state program 
giving identification cards to medical marijuana patients.

The board voted 4-1 to raise the application fees for medical 
marijuana identification cards from $53 to $106. Supervisor Les Baugh 
dissented, arguing the program has failed to draw the number of 
applicants that had been expected. Shasta County has 50 cardholders, 
far short of the 300 that had been predicted.

Baugh also said the program forces the county to send a mixed message 
about marijuana -- condoning it by issuing an ID card while spending 
hundreds of thousands of dollars stopping marijuana growers.

"It's a huge problem," Baugh said of marijuana production. "Now I'm 
asked to put a seal of approval on those who want to use marijuana."

"Medically," Supervisor Glenn Hawes interjected.

"I understand that," Baugh responded. "It's really hard for me to 
reconcile the two thoughts."

Other board members said they were merely complying with a state law 
requiring the distribution of cards. But Hawes and Supervisor Linda 
Hartman said they disagreed with Proposition 215, the 1996 state 
initiative that legalized the medicinal use of cannabis with a 
doctor's recommendation.

The supervisors' remarks upset Bonnie Metcalf, a medical-marijuana 
activist and patient who had told board members the increase would 
make the cards cost-prohibitive for many. Afterward, she said her 
sister died of complications from breast cancer, and now she has a 
terminal illness herself.

"It really disheartens me that your supervisors think this is crap," 
said a tearful Metcalf, who moved to Redding from the Yuba 
City-Marysville area three weeks ago. "That is so uncompassionate, 
and they wonder why nobody comes forward to do this."

The increase results from the state Department of Health Services' 
decision to raise its application fee from $13 to $66 on April 1. The 
county's $40 fee is unchanged.

The state health department concluded it had to raise the fees to 
make the program self-sufficient. Only 8,700 patients were enrolled 
statewide as of January, but 150,000 had been anticipated, according 
to California's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform 
of Marijuana Laws.

Supervisor David Kehoe said the board should urge north state 
lawmakers to start an inquiry into why the state had to raise its fee 
by 500 percent.

"Government has to be accountable," Kehoe said. "It seems at the 
state and federal level it's a blank check. That's not the case in 
county government or in city government."

But Metcalf said many patients haven't signed up for the cards 
because of fear of being put on a statewide database and being 
harassed by police. David Reiten, the county's drug and alcohol 
program coordinator, said the names of Shasta County cardholders 
aren't put in a statewide database.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman