SF Implements Statewide Medical Marijuana ID Program

January 08, 2006

Bay City News Wire, CBS 5 TV

The San Francisco Department of Public Health today became the first major California city to implement the new State Medical Marijuana Program, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

In 2000, the San Francisco health department established the San Francisco Medical Cannabis card program, issuing more than 10,000 cards to cannabis patients citywide.

Signed by governor Gray Davis in 2003, California Senate Bill 420 required the state health department to institute a similar voluntary program for the issuance of patient identification cards across the state.

Dr. Joshua Bamberger, medical director of housing and urban health for the department, said that new legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors last year will require San Franciscans to have a valid card to access clubs once they are licensed with the city.

"Having the state card gives you the highest level of protection," said Bamberger.

According to the department, patients with a valid San Francisco card will not need to apply for the state card until the local card expires although Bamberger.

"The local card was a convenience," which medical marijuana patients could use to identify themselves to a peace officer and that was accepted at many dispensaries in the city, said Bamberger. Before the city established its card program, only a doctor's letter was necessary to purchase marijuana.

Under the new program, San Franciscans will have the opportunity to carry a card to identify themselves as legitimate medical marijuana users. Each card will contain a photo but will not hold any personal information and no personal information will be kept by the Department of Public Health.

The department expects to issue about 30 cards daily. Patients with a doctor's letter will be able to apply for the new card program at the main entrance to San Francisco General Hospital. Office hours for the application will be Monday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. and the cost for the new card is $50 with a 50 percent discount for people with Medi-Cal.

Pot clubs sprouted up in San Francisco after California voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, allowing patients with permission from a doctor to purchase medical marijuana.

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