Drug Law

Advocates Want Implementation of Marijuana ID Card Program

| by DeepDiveAdmin

Pro-Marijuana Group Accuses Solano County, Calif. of Violating State Law and Denying Protections for Patients

Vallejo, Calif. (January 6, 2009) --- Medical marijuana patient advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access filed a lawsuit Monday against Solano County for failing to implement the state-mandated identification card program. State legislation adopted in 2003 mandated that all counties in California implement an identification card program meant to assist law enforcement and provide greater protections for medical marijuana patients and their caregivers.

However, ASA says that despite legislation and a landmark decision in July 2008 from the California Fourth District Court of Appeal, affirming the validity of that requirement, several counties including Solano have still failed to comply.

"Solano County cannot simply flaunt its obligation under the law," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel for ASA, the organization that also helped litigate the landmark case, San Diego County v. State of California. "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."

Monday's action follows letters sent in August and October of 2008 to officials from Solano and other counties indicating a resolve to file a lawsuit unless compliance with the law was imminent. In addition to the letter sent to Solano County officials, letters were sent to 15 other counties that have failed to implement the state ID card program.

On October 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court refused to review San Diego County v. State of California, making clear the obligations of counties under the state's medical marijuana law. Since 2003,?40 of California's 58 counties have implemented the medical marijuana ID card program. As a result of the letters and the new court mandate, 11 additional counties (Alpine, Fresno, Kings, Mariposa, Modoc, Nevada, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, and Ventura) have come into compliance or have pledged to do so.

According to the 2003 state law, California medical marijuana patients and their caregivers may obtain ID cards from the state, administered by each of the state's counties, that are supposed to provide protection from arrest and prosecution.

However, ASA says that because of an unwillingness by many counties to implement the program, thousands of patients are placed at unnecessary risk. In a statement from Monday, ASA said local officials have used federal law to deny patients' rights under state law, but the July 2008 landmark decision made clear that federal law does not preempt the state's medical marijuana law.