HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html State Resumes Medical Marijuana ID Card Program
Pubdate: Tue, 19 Jul 2005
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2005 MediaNews Group, Inc.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Cited: Gonzales v. Raich ( )


SACRAMENTO -- 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 

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.
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