Glenn Health Services to issue medical-marijuana IDs

November 06, 2007

Barbara Arrigoni, Chico Enterprise-Record

Glenn County joined 35 other California counties Tuesday with a decision by the Board of Supervisors to approve a fee for dispersing medical-marijuana identification cards to people who have prescriptions.

At a public hearing in Willows, Health Services Agency Director Scott Gruendl said he's spent the last 18 months working on how to implement the state's marijuana law. He said voters approved medical-marijuana use 11 years ago and the state authorized identification cards three years ago.

Part of Gruendl's effort has been spent working with the district attorney, sheriff and Orland and Willows police chiefs to figure out how to operate the plan locally. He has also been watching legal issues pertaining to medical marijuana in other counties, he said.

To comply with the 2003 Senate Bill 420, Gruendl asked the board to approve two items: designate Health Services as the local agency to handle applications and establish a fee of $174 per year for administrative costs. A $66 portion of the fee will go to the state Department of Public Health for its costs.

Health Services will collect card applications and the fee, verify the validity of the prescriptions and physicians' licenses and obtain photographs. That information will be sent to the state, which will produce the cards. Gruendl said he and law enforcement officials estimated about six cards will be issued locally. He said the card will allow the sheriff's dispatcher to verify with one call that a card is correct, which he said will eliminate several steps law enforcement now take when they encounter people using marijuana.

A few individuals in the audience talked about their own experiences with law enforcement and their medicinal use of pot. They asked the board to approve the requests and specifically asked the county to set specific guidelines about how many plants a person with a prescription can legally have.

Supervisor Tom McGowan at this point clarified that although the state has passed a law allowing medical-marijuana use, the federal government still considers it a crime.

"We're not condoning the use of marijuana," McGowan said. "We're only charging the costs we are incurring."

Supervisor Keith Hansen also said the board's position was only to comply with the state's law, and not to argue the individual basis or philosophy of the law. The board approved the request 4-1.

Staff writer Barbara Arrigoni can be reached at 896-7757 or barrigoni@chicoer.com.



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