New pot cards to be issued

December 15, 2005

Rachel Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle

 

The San Francisco Department of Public Health is gearing up for the new state medical marijuana program in which patients and their caregivers will be issued California identification cards allowing them to buy and use cannabis if a physician recommends it.

Starting Jan. 9, applications for the new cards will be accepted in the main lobby of San Francisco General Hospital from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

San Francisco has been running its own medical marijuana identification card program for years -- more than 8,000 have been issued so far -- but the state program, run through the counties, is expected to make it easier for people to purchase the medical cannabis from dispensaries throughout California.

When the state program starts up, San Francisco's identification card program will fold. However, people who already have the city cards can continue using them in San Francisco. No doubt they'll make nice collectors' items someday.

Of course there's no guarantee that the new cards will protect cardholders from local, state or federal prosecution, city public health officials warn. Just this week, federal drug agents raided 13 medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County, seizing high-grade marijuana, computers and patient records.

Well aware that the feds could target San Francisco next, city officials, led by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, have enacted a policy that once the application process for the new state identification cards is completed, patients and caregivers will get back all their identifying application documents, including the doctors' letters of recommendation, so there will be no paperwork for authorities to seize.

More information can be found at www.sfdph.org/services/mcidinfo.htm.

Into the fire: After once serving as chief of the city's housing inspection division, Joe Grubb is set to return to his roots this month. Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin plans to appoint Grubb to the Building Inspection Commission.

Most people know Grubb as the longtime head of the Rent Board agency, where he earned the respect of both property owner groups and tenant activists. This was a rare feat because San Francisco's rent-control law, which Grubb's agency administered, often sparks heated debates. Grubb served in that post from 1989 until he retired last year. He worked in the city's building inspection division before that.

"He was a very good department head. He's independent. He's funny and irreverent and nobody can scare him,'' Peskin said in describing his appointee.

Given the state of the Department of Building Inspection, he'll have to put all those qualities to the test.



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