Medical marijuana cards requested at Stanislaus supervisors meeting

August 26, 2008

Tim Moran, The Modesto Bee

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday heard a plea to issue state-mandated medical marijuana identification cards.

Deborah Pottle, a former state corrections officer, said 40 of California's 58 counties have card programs. "I'm not here to ask you for a dispensary," she told the supervisors. The ID cards help law enforcement officers sort out state-legal medical marijuana users from criminals, Pottle said, and make patients more comfortable about possessing marijuana.

Pottle said a back injury and allergic reactions to pain medications left her with no other options than marijuana. "I ask you to implement the card program so I can comply with the law," she said.

The Board of Supervisors also received a letter from Americans for Safe Access, a group advocating for medical marijuana, urging them to implement an ID card program. The letter threatened a lawsuit if the county didn't establish a program.

After the meeting, county counsel John Doering said Stanislaus has taken preliminary steps toward developing a program, but is waiting for state guidelines from the Department of Health Services.

The issue came up a day after California Attorney General Jerry Brown issued a set of guidelines for medical marijuana dispensaries aimed at separating legitimate operators from criminal drug traffickers.

The 11-page document says dispensaries should be not-for- profit organizations structured as collectives or collaboratives. They cannot purchase marijuana from unlawful sources and must keep detailed records proving that users are legitimate patients.

Several local jurisdictions have banned dispensaries. The law is ambiguous about medical marijuana; it is legal in California and several other states, but its use is against federal law.

Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at or 578-2349.

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