San Diego City Council Approves Ordinance To Provide IDs to Marijuana Patients
The San Diego City Council yesterday voted 6-3 to approve an ordinance that would provide identification cards to adults who use marijuana for medical purposes in an effort to protect them from arrest by city police, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The vote establishes the ID program ordinance and formally makes law guidelines governing the use of medical marijuana that the council adopted in February. The guidelines would 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. The measure, however, bans smoking marijuana in public and outdoor cultivation of the plant, and it requires that the structure in which plants are grown be locked. The ordinance calls on police to detain bearers of the card only long enough to verify his or her status with the issuing agency and to not confiscate their marijuana provided that the amount and conditions of its use are within the ordinance's limits. The cards will include the bearer's photograph, an expiration date, a serial number and the phone number of the not-for-profit organization -- which has yet to be named -- that will administer the program. Both the guidelines and the ID-card program are under a two-year trial period after which the council will take a final vote to enact the ordinance.
Police Chief William Lansdowne said that the ordinance "clearly defines the [medical marijuana] issue and makes it easier to enforce," adding that the new ID-card ordinance "makes my job easier." Jerry Meier, director of San Diego's Medical Cannabis Task Force, which was established in May 2001 to implement Proposition 215 -- the 1996 ballot initiative allowing state physicians to recommend marijuana to sick patients -- said he expects the ID program to be operational by the January 2004. However, Mayor Dick Murphy (R), who voted against the guidelines and the ID card program, said, "I have seen first-hand effects in hundreds of cases of the devastation caused by drugs to families and society and I cannot support legislation that supports drug use," adding, "I think it sends a bad message that the use of drugs is OK." Donald Thornhill, a special agent for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, sided with Murphy saying, "It really amounts to de-facto legalization. There is no medical use for marijuana, period" (San Diego Union Tribune, 9/17).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.