New fees are no cure for medical marijuana cards

March 06, 2007

EDITORIAL, Record Searchlight (CA)

The state's medical marijuana ID program is a dismal failure, so what is Sacramento's solution? Charge more for it.

What "medicine" are these guys smoking?

The Shasta County supervisors Tuesday doubled the fee the medical marijuana patients pay for the ID cards, but only to match the California Department of Health Services' higher charge.

Apparently the program hasn't raised enough money to cover the state's costs, but that's no surprise. Few medical marijuana users have signed up for the ID cards, which are entirely voluntary.

The Legislature passed the ID law as part of a package that tried to clarify the rules for medical marijuana. The cards' goal was to protect patients from arrest by creating a statewide database of legitimate users that police officers could check.

But a doctor's recommendation, which is needed for the card anyway, is just as good for that job. And it doesn't require the extra hassle or the extra charge of $53 -- now $106. Nor do patients have to worry that a state database might somehow be used against them.

When the state first rolled out the program, it predicted about 700 medical marijuana users would sign up in Shasta County. Skeptical county officials, when setting it up locally in 2005, forecast 300. How many have actually enrolled? Just 50.

The ID card might have been worth a try, but most patients plainly aren't interested, and doubling the fees won't close the deal.

The ideal reform for the medical marijuana ID would be for the Legislature to snuff it out.

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