Pubdate: Thu, 23 Oct 2008
Source: Lodi News-Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Lodi News-Sentinel
Author: Ross Farrow
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Beginning about the first of the year, San Joaquin  County residents
will be able to acquire medical  marijuana with a doctor's

The first step toward carrying out the state-mandated  program took
place Tuesday, when the Board of  Supervisors voted 3-2 to issue
medical marijuana  identification cards. A public hearing on a
proposed  $141 annual fee for the ID card is scheduled for Nov.  4.

County Public Health Director Bill Mitchell said that  demand for
medicinal marijuana cards hasn't been great  in San Joaquin County,
but he and Supervisor Leroy  Ornellas wonder how many will want a card
once the  card's availability is announced.

"Since the (state) law was passed, two or three people  have called,
somewhat routinely, asking when we were  going to implement the
program," Mitchell said in an  interview after the Board of
Supervisors meeting.

Ornellas wonders if demand will explode from three  people to

Ornellas, who along with Steve Gutierrez voted against  issuing the
identification cards, said in a phone  interview after Tuesday's
meeting that he realizes the  Board of Supervisors' hands are tied
because it is  required by the state, but he voted "no" because of 
several unanswered questions he had.

"Some of us wondered out loud if we could wait (to  approve them),"
Ornellas said "We could have waited, in  my opinion."

Ornellas said his primary concern is that a "caregiver"  can purchase
the marijuana for the patient, but it  isn't clear what constitutes a

County Sheriff Steve Moore said that the public needs  to know what
people can and cannot do under the state's  medicinal marijuana law.
For example, someone who is  legally entitled to marijuana cannot sell
it or give it  to someone else, Mitchell said. And it will still be 
illegal for anyone to drive while impaired by  marijuana, Mitchell

The identification card will also help law enforcement  officers, for
example, because they will know not to  arrest someone if deputies
find marijuana in their car  if they have the card, Mitchell said.

Ornellas said he sympathizes with people who are  suffering from
disease, but he fears that allowing  medical marijuana will lead to
abuse of the system.

The program won't start until about the first of the  year, Mitchell
said, because staff will need to be  trained.
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