Pubdate: Sun, 25 Mar 2012
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2012 Associated Press
Author: Lisa Leff, Associated Press


San Francisco (AP) - California has seven times as many residents as 
Colorado, but nearly nine times fewer medical-marijuana users, at 
least on paper.

And as far as record-keepers know, the most populous state, home to 
the nation's first and most liberal medical-marijuana laws, also has 
a smaller number of pot patients than Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan and montana.

If those statistics look off-kilter, they should. The reality is that 
no one knows how many people are legally using marijuana in 
California because the state - with hundreds of pot stores and 
clinics that issue medical marijuana recommendations - does not 
require residents to register as patients. Of the 16 states that 
allow the medicinal use of cannabis, it is one of only three without 
such a requirement.

Now, with California's medical-marijuana industry laboring under a 
renewed federal crackdown that has forced many storefront 
dispensaries to close, a Democratic state lawmaker has introduced 
legislation that, if passed, would give authorities a much clearer 
count of the drug's bona fide consumer base.

The bill would require anyone who wants to claim a legal right to use 
marijuana for health reasons to apply for a county-issued 
identification card. Marijuana patients also would have to say 
whether they plan to grow their own pot or to purchase it from a 
patient collective, and name the collective.

The changes are designed to make it easier for police and sheriff's 
deputies to identify who can legally consume and grow marijuana and 
who is using medical-marijuana laws as a cover for illegal drug 
possession or dealing, supporters say.
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