Lack of Funds, Legal Concerns Delay Implementation of San Diego Medical Marijuana ID Program
Lack of funding and legal concerns have delayed the implementation of a San Diego ordinance to develop a program that stipulates how much marijuana residents can possess for medical use and to issue identification cards to those individuals, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Huard, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/20). Under the ordinance, approved last month by the San Diego City Council, a not-for-profit organization will provide identification cards to adults who use marijuana for medical purposes in an effort to prevent city police from arresting them; the organization has not yet been named. The ordinance will allow people with the approval of a San Diego physician to keep as much as one pound of marijuana and grow 24 plants; caregivers could store as much as two pounds of marijuana and grow as many as 48 marijuana plants for up to four patients (California Healthline, 9/17). However, the Union-Tribune reports that a recently enacted state law specifies different amounts of marijuana that patients can legally possess and requires the Department of Health Services to establish a patient registry. The law also directs county governments to create ID programs for people who use marijuana for medical purposes (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/20). The state measure (SB 420), which takes effect Jan. 1, 2004, stipulates that state residents can possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana for medical purposes. Alternatively, the law permits state residents to possess 12 immature or six mature live marijuana plants for medical use. In addition, it requires county health departments to certify applicants' eligibility for the IDs (California Healthline, 10/14).
Some city officials have said that the city should proceed with its plans to implement an ID program because the state law does not specify a timeline for county governments to create such programs. The San Diego Medical Cannabis Task Force has not yet made a recommendation on whether the city should implement the program and has not raised the estimated $20,000 to $25,000 needed to start the program. Greg Cox, chair of the San Diego Board of Supervisors, said the county has not yet decided how to deal with the new state law (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.