Medical marijuana program begins in El Dorado County

August 15, 2007

Jeff Munson, Tahoe Daily Tribune (CA)

As of this week, adult pot smokers deemed to have "serious medical conditions" can apply for a county permit and pay an annual $114 fee to use the psychotropic drug legally with a doctor's prescription.

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors recently authorized the Public Health Department to locally implement the California Medical Marijuana Program.


The MMP is voluntary and intended to provide patients with an identification card that could be used as evidence that they have a physician's recommendation to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. In El Dorado County, the identification card program began Wednesday.

The California Department of Health Services established the MMP in 2004 to facilitate the registration of qualified patients and their primary caregivers through a statewide identification system. The medical marijuana identification card can also assist law enforcement officials in determining whether individuals using marijuana meet the requirements of California's Compassionate Use Act, also known as Proposition 215.

The Compassionate Use Act exempts patients, their caregivers and physicians who recommend the use of marijuana for medical purposes from state criminal laws for the possession, use, transportation, delivery or cultivation of marijuana. However, the Act does not protect marijuana plants from seizure nor individuals from federal prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act.

To qualify for the MMP and apply for a medical marijuana identification card, an individual must be 18 years of age and older with a serious medical condition and certification from a physician indicating that medical marijuana is appropriate for their condition. Caregivers, whose patients meet the above criteria, are also eligible for the MMP. Identification cards are good for one year only. Applicants must re-apply, show proof of continued medical need, and pay the registration fee each year.

The cost of the medical marijuana identification card in El Dorado County is currently $114. Applicants with proof of current Medi-Cal/CMSP benefits will be charged $57. All fees are non-refundable, even if the application is denied. Applications for the MMP are available at the Emergency Medical Services Agency located at 415 Placerville Drive, Suite J in Placerville and may be picked up weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon and 1p.m. to 5 p.m. Completed applications will be accepted by appointment only.

For additional information on the MMP, please visit www.dhs.ca.gov/mmp. To schedule an appointment to return an application, or for further questions about the program or the ID cards in El Dorado County, please call (530) 621-6500. The Public Health Department plans to post additional information about the MMP, including downloadable application forms, on their Web site at www.co.el-dorado.ca.us/publichealth by Sept. 1.

Identification cards may be issued to those with qualifying medical conditions

What is a "serious medical condition" that allows for medicinal use of marijuana?

"Serious medical condition" means all of the following medical conditions:

-- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

-- Anorexia

-- Arthritis

-- Cachexia

-- Cancer

-- Chronic pain

-- Glaucoma

-- Migraine

-- Persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to, spasms associated with multiple sclerosis

-- Seizures, including, but not limited to, seizures associated with epilepsy

-- Severe nausea

-- Any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either: 1) Substantially limits the ability of the person to conduct one or more major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 2) If not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the patient's safety or physical or mental health.

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