Maybe some relief for medical marijuana patients in Lake County?

March 05, 2007

Tiffany Revelle, Record-Bee

LAKE COUNTY -- The county will address a California Department of Health Services (DHS) decision today that may spell relief for Lake County's medical marijuana patients.

California Assemblyman Mark Leno (D San Francisco) announced Wednesday that the state fee to counties participating in the Senate Bill 420 mandated medical marijuana identification card (MMIC) program will go up to $66 as of April 1, rather than the previously announced $142. Both figures are a substantial increase from the original fee of $13 instituted when SB 420 was signed into law in 2005.

"As county after county began to consider pulling out of the state medical marijuana ID card program, it was clear to all involved that the fee increase at the $142 level would have ended the program. We simply could not allow patients who depend on medical cannabis for pain and nausea relief to be put at risk of mistaken arrest or detainment by law enforcement," said Assemblyman Leno.

Only 24 out of California's 58 counties participate in the program, driving an anticipated 150,000 participants down to a mere 9,000 among whom to divide the cost of a state-maintained data base designed to protect medical marijuana users from state-level criminal prosecution.

The I.D. cards are designed to identify those with a doctor's note to law enforcement to avoid unnecessary harassment and arrests.

Lake County adopted an ordinance last year to set up an MMIC program, and replaced it last Tuesday with an ordinance putting the $142 fee hike in place.

Lake County's non-MeciCal beneficiaries would have paid $200 for an identification card as of Thursday; the fee is half of that for MediCal beneficiaries.

Scheduled for its second reading today, the MMIC program ordinance voted in by the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday may undergo some changes today, according to county Health Services Director Jim Brown.

"We're trying to get it reduced ... and make it so people are able to use the card," said Brown. He said he would propose amending the ordinance to contain the $66 state fee today, but said he did not yet know how much medical cannabis patients might have to pay for a card. That information, he said, would be available after the BOS meets today.

County Council Anita Grant noted that if amended, the ordinance would have to be advanced again at least five days for final adoption.

At Brown's last count, eight Lake County residents had contacted his office about obtaining a medical marijuana identification card.

Anyone interested in obtaining a card may call the county Department of Health Services at 263-1090 and talk to Jessie Wiser. Information revealed in the process will be kept confidential, said Brown.

Contact Tiffany Revelle at trevelle@record-bee.com.

 



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