Solano to allow medical marijuana ID cards
June 23, 2009
Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle
Solano County joined the rest of the Bay Area in authorizing identification cards for medical marijuana users Tuesday when supervisors voted to let patients apply for documents that protect them from arrest for carrying small amounts of the drug with their doctor's approval.
The 3-2 vote followed the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal last month to hear a lawsuit by San Diego and San Bernardino counties that challenged both the law that required identification cards and the 1996 ballot measure, Proposition 215, that made California the first state to approve marijuana for medical use.
Both counties argued that issuing ID cards would require them to condone drug use that violated federal law. They had asked the Supreme Court to review a state appellate ruling last year that concluded California can decide whether to eliminate its own criminal penalties for medical marijuana regardless of federal law.
Solano County did not take part in the suit but had resisted issuing the identification cards while the case was pending, said Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group that sued the county over the issue in January.
Of California's 58 counties, 52 issue the cards or are in the process of approving them, the advocacy group said. The organization said it has threatened to sue the holdouts - Colusa, Madera, Mariposa, Modoc, Mono and Sutter - unless they go along.
"More than 12 years after the passage of California's medical marijuana law, it's time for local officials to respect the legal rights and protections offered to patients," said the group's lawyer, Joe Elford.