Medical marijuana ID program approved for Yolo County

March 07, 2007

Lizeth Cazares, California Aggie

The Yolo County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to implement the statewide medical marijuana identification card program within the county on a three-to-two decision during its Feb. 27 meeting.

Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad said the county voted on the issue because it is part of California law, based on Proposition 215, which was passed in 1996 and states that all state counties are required to implement medical marijuana ID programs.

Rexroad said at the meeting he voted against the implementation of the program because he felt it put the county and its law enforcement agencies into a compromising position.

"The county is required to issue this but it's federally illegal," he said. "This puts our law enforcement officers in a tough position."

Rexroad added that so far those who have needed medical marijuana have been able to obtain it without an identification card.

"No one was able to come up with an example of someone who was in pain and not able to get it," he said.

Despite opposition, the program is on its way to becoming operational. Once fully implemented, the program will be the responsibility of the Yolo County Health Department, which will issue the identification cards.

Betty Hinton, director of health for the YCHD, said as part of state law, the department will work as a delegate to the state health department.

"All we are doing is being an agent of the state health department," Hinton said. "It will be the state department who will have a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week website so that law enforcement can check and verify an ID card."

While the board has approved the program, Hinton said the department has to complete one additional procedure before it can begin to issue ID cards.

After it becomes fully implemented, those who are eligible will be able to obtain a card after completing an application, paying a $100 fee once personal and medical information has been verified.
Hinton added that while the department has had individuals inquiring about medical marijuana IDs in the past, she doubts that there will be much of a demand for them once the program is implemented.

"I don't think it's common for physicians in Yolo County to prescribe medical marijuana," Hinton said. "There won't be that big of a demand, but we'll see."

Even with the implementation of the program, some law enforcement departments will continue to follow previous procedure.

Lieutenant Colleen Turay, public information officer for the Davis Police Department, said there have been previous instances in which individuals who have been arrested for possession of marijuana have shown officers their ID cards.

"It doesn't happen frequently, but I know we've seen cards before," she said.

But even with the implementation of the medical marijuana ID program, Turay said it will not have an effect on the way the DPD enforces possession.

"Well it won't affect us much at all; we're going to continue the standard way we enforce the law," Turay said. "It'll be up to you to prove to the court that you have a valid ID card."

For more information about the program, visit the state health department's website at http://www.dhs.ca.gov/.


LIZETH CAZARES can be reached at city@californiaaggie.com.


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