Marijuana ID cards to cost $78

November 16, 2006

April Charlton, Santa Maria Times

San Luis Obispo County's qualified medical marijuana patients and caregivers will pay $78 for a medical marijuana identification card if they choose to sign up for the state-mandated program.

With a unanimous vote Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors approved establishing the fee to process applications for medical marijuana identification cards.

The supervisors approved the item during a public hearing that took less than two minutes to complete, after a hearing on other business that extended from about 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“I'm here to request that you approve this,” Jeff Hamm, County Health Agency director, told an exhausted five supervisors in what was also the extent of his staff presentation.

There also wasn't any public comment offered on the item, and the supervisors didn't discuss the issue that was their last hearing of the day and began shortly before 7 p.m.

The new $78 fee will be attached to every identification card application that's processed at the County Public Health Department in San Luis Obispo. However, Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are also medical marijuana patients will only pay half the fee.

It will cost about $6,500 to implement the identification card program, in part, because the county will have to absorb the costs of Medi-Cal patients who apply for a card, according to Hamm.

Proposition 215, passed by state voters in 1996, not only legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, but it also stipulated that Medi-Cal patients can only be charged 50 percent of card fees.

California legislators also passed Senate Bill 420 in 2003, which mandates every county in the state to implement an identification card program and begin issuing cards to qualified patients and caregivers.

The intent of the bill is to help law enforcement by creating a form of identification that is official and uniform throughout the state, something that wasn't addressed in Prop. 215.

The Heath Department estimates the county will issue about 600 cards during the first year of the program.

Individuals wishing to apply for an identification card must possess a letter of recommendation from a licensed physician stating they're prescribed marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the Health Department.

After the Health Department processes an application, which includes the applicant having his or her picture taken, it's sent to the state for further processing and entry into a statewide database that law enforcement agencies can access.

April Charlton can be reached at 489-4206, Ext. 5016, or acharlton@santamariatimes.com.



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