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if(requestedWidth > 0){ document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.width = requestedWidth + 'px'; document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').style.margin = '0px 0px 10px 10px'; } A medical marijuana advocacy group sued Solano County Monday for failing to implement a state-mandated program that would protect patients using the drug from arrest and prosecution.

Americans for Safe Access filed the complaint in Solano County Superior Court. The group's chief counsel, Joe Elford, said the county has not complied with state law, and has refused to issue state identification cards to medical marijuana users.

Without the cards, users -- even if they take the drug upon the advice of their doctors -- can be arrested if they are carrying a small amount of marijuana.

Solano County is one of about a dozen California counties without identification card programs despite state legislation adopted in 2003 and upheld in July 2008 by the California Fourth District Court of Appeal.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors in 2006 voted 3-2 against implementing a medical marijuana program. The board has not discussed the issue since, said public information officer Steve Pierce.

The suit alleges the supervisors and the county's Health and Social Services Department have refused to implement the ID card program.

Solano County Health and Social Services director Patrick Duterte said a closed session discussion with the supervisors will be held Jan. 13.

The Solano County Counsel's Office could not be reached for comment.

The ASA sent the county two letters this fall demanding compliance with state law, Elford said.

"Solano County cannot simply flaunt its obligation under the law," Elford said.

"This lawsuit is aimed at forcing counties like Solano to fully implement state law and to stop denying medical marijuana patients their legal rights and protections," Elford said.

Counties without an identification card program claim federal law preempts California's law, Elford said. Federal law regards marijuana use, cultivation and sales as illegal.

According to state law, California medical marijuana patients and their caregivers may obtain identification cards from the state through the various counties. The cards are supposed to provide protection from arrest and prosecution, according to the ASA.

Suffering from a jaw disorder, Linda Jimenez of Fairfield uses medical marijuana at the recommendation of her physician and is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. She said she and many others like her in Solano County find it difficult and dangerous to obtain supplies for their conditions.

"You have to hide. You can't get your meds safely in town or in the county so it makes it very difficult," said Jimenez, a member of a nonprofit called the Compassionate Coalition.

For the last few years, Jimenez said she's spoken before the Board of Supervisors and numerous city councils, urging them to adhere to state law and adopt a program.

Jimenez estimates there are more than 2,000 medical marijuana patients in Solano County.

Another Solano County resident-plaintiff, identified only as "John Doe", says he uses the drug for pain from degenerative disc disorder and joint arthritis in his lower back.

Doe's marijuana was seized after police detained and charged him in March 2006 with possession of marijuana, according to the petition.

California voters in 1996 approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, which allows use of medical marijuana approved by a physician.