STATE OFFICIALS ORDER MMJ ID PROGRAM HALT DESPITE LEGAL OPINIONS

July 08, 2005
California – Medical marijuana patients and supporters across the state
called in protest to Governor Schwarzenegger, after learning that the
California Department of Health Services (DHS) suspended implementation
of the long-awaited voluntary ID program for patients and caregivers.

A letter sent by the Department of Health to county health departments
cites the Raich decision as the reason, stating, “Although California's
Compassionate Use Act and SB 420 were not directly affected by the
Court's decision, the ruling raises questions whether the State can
lawfully conduct an identification card program that facilitates
violation of the Controlled Substances Act.” DHS has suspended the
program until California Attorney General Bill Lockyer issues an opinion.

Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) suspended its mandatory
medical marijuana ID system after the Raich ruling on June 6, and ten
days later were instructed by Oregon Attorney General Hardy Meyers to
immediately resume issuance of medical marijuana registry identification
cards to qualified applicants. AG Meyers stated that, “The Oregon
Medical Marijuana Act remains valid state law. As a result, DHS
continues to be responsible for maintaining a program for the issuance
of the cards pursuant to the terms of the Act.”

Advocates say they are confident that the law is on their side, and are
calling on California officials to move quickly. “The Governor should
order DHS to resume the ID program,” said Steph Sherer, director of
Americans for Safe Access, the nation’s largest medical marijuana rights
group. “The ID card system is just an extension of verifying doctors’
recommendations, which was already determined in the Conant decision to
not constitute ‘aiding and abetting’. DHS needs to get up to speed on
the law.”

Attorney General Lockyer has now issued at least 3 official statements
since the Gonzales vs. Raich ruling, all affirming that state laws,
including the one that mandates the voluntary ID program, remain
unchanged by the ruling, and that California officials may not use this
ruling to ignore the protections afforded qualified medical marijuana
patients by the Compassionate Use Act and SB420. To read these, go to:

June 6 statement - http://caag.state.ca.us/newsalerts/2005/05-040.htm
June 9 bulletin -
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/AG_Raich_Bulletin1.pdf
June 22 bulletin
-http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/AG_Raich_Bulletin2.pdf

The voluntary medical marijuana ID system was mandated in the passage of
SB 420 in September of 2003, and was designed to alleviate ongoing
tension between law enforcement and patients. The program was slow to
receive funding, and had only started a month ago in just a few
counties. All counties are scheduled to commence their programs by the
end of the year.

Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Oakland have long had independent ID card
systems, and these remain in operation.

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A national coalition of 12,000 patients, doctors and advocates,
Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization working solely on
medical marijuana. To learn more, see www.SafeAccessNow.org.


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