County to issue medical pot IDs

November 23, 2005

Kimberly Trone, Press-Enterprise



The Riverside County Department of Public Health on Wednesday announced plans to begin implementing the statewide medical-marijuana identification-card program Dec. 1.

Enrollment is optional, but participation could protect patients and caregivers who are complying with California's medical-marijuana laws from arrest and prosecution, said Victoria Jauregui Burns of the health department.

Sheriff Bob Doyle said his department intends to abide by the state attorney general's rules on medical marijuana.

In 1996, California voters passed Prop. 215, making medical marijuana legal. State lawmakers approved an identification-card program in 2003.

But the United States Supreme Court ruled in June that people who smoke marijuana with a doctor's permission could still be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws.

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, a pharmacist, called it a "shame" the county is required to uphold a state mandate that conflicts with the federal ruling.

Stone said the state has not provided for oversight of how much marijuana patients are using or how the dosages and purity are determined. In contrast, Stone said the state monitors for abuse of highly controlled pharmaceutical narcotics.

The supervisors have imposed a moratorium on medical-marijuana dispensaries at least until April, to give the county time to establish rules and regulations.

Temecula resident LaVonne Victor, a medical-marijuana user, said she favors small co-ops of users who share the product. Dispensaries "might run amok for business and profit," she said.

"Patients need a safe place to get their medicine," Victor said.

Those requesting a card will be required to provide valid identification, proof of residency and a doctor's recommendation.

For information and appointments, call the Department of Public Health at (888) 358-7931. A $100 administrative fee will be charged. The fee is $50 for Medi-Cal patients.

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