Medical marijuana ID program under way

January 04, 2006

, Bakersfield Californian

The county’s medical marijuana ID card program is now up and running.

The ID cards, part of a state-mandated program, are meant to provide qualified medical pot users with a means of identifying themselves to law enforcement officers.

In Kern, the voluntary program is being administered by the county Public Health Department.

Here’s how it will work:

Applications will be processed by appointment only, and only at the health department’s main office at 1800 Mt. Vernon Ave.

Application paperwork can be picked up at any of the county’s 11 public health clinics. Materials can also be downloaded from the state health department’s Web site at

Applicants must bring all of the following materials to their appointment:

• The fully completed application form, filled out in advance.

• Proof of residency, such as a valid driver’s license, utility bill or vehicle registration.

• A recommendation from a physician in good standing with the state.

• A $100 application fee. Medi-Cal recipients pay a $50 fee.

To schedule an appointment, call 868-1220.

The appointment process is meant to provide confidentiality to applicants, the department says, although application information can be accessed by federal officials.

While state voters approved legalizing medical marijuana use in 1996, pot use remains a federal crime.

Dr. Claudia Jonah, assistant health officer with the department, said processing ID cards could take up to 35 days.

The department has 30 days to verify information, she said. The material is then forwarded to the state, which will generate the card within five days.

The state mails the card back to the county, and applicants must return to the Bakersfield office to pick up the cards in person, she said.

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