Fresno recognizes use of medical marijuana
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 on Tuesday, Sept. 9, to participate in Californiaâ€™s Medical Marijuana Program (MMP).
Tulare, Merced and Kern counties joined the MMPâ€™s registry and started issuing identification cards this year. Other counties began issuing the identification cards in 2005. The MMP was established in 2003.
Cards to aid officials
As stated on MMPâ€™s Web site, â€œusing marijuana, even for medical reasons, is against federal law.â€
In 2006, California became a part of the Compassionate Use Act. The Compassionate Use Act gives patients permission to grow and use marijuana if prescribed by a doctor. The MMP requires that patients and their primary caregivers register with the statewide identification card system.
By allowing patients to have an identification card, law enforcement officers will be able to quickly see if that person is operating within the law.
â€œLaw enforcements will be able to type in the name and number of the patient to see if they have a card,â€ said Jena Adams, supervising communal disease specialist and supervisor of the Medical Marijuana Program for Fresno.
Application process underway
She said proof of a doctorâ€™s recommendation must be provided during the application process. Applicants must also prove that they are residents of Fresno County.
As stated in the Department of Justiceâ€™s Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use, â€œA qualified patient is a person whose physician has recommended the use of marijuana to treat a serious illness, which marijuana provides relief.â€
Fresno Countyâ€™s health department is in charge of taking applications for the cards, which have to be renewed every year.
Attorney General Jerry Brown said that he felt the identification cards â€œrepresent one of the best ways to ensure the security and non-diversion of marijuana grown for medical use.â€
Cost of card undetermined
Dec. 1 is the start date for issuing the identification cards in Fresno. The county has not determined what the cost of the card will be yet but hopes to know by mid-November. The cost of a card varies by county.
Patients with Medicare have to show proof that they are covered to be able to have the identification card.
â€œWhatever the cost is, Medicare people will only have to pay half of the cost,â€ Adams said.
“A win-win situation”
According to the MMP Web site, the number of applicants from Fresno Country is unknown.
In 2007, 6,782 cards were issued in California.
Aaron Smith, California organizer for Marijuana Policy Project feels that the best way to make the problem of marijuana shrink is to regulate it.
â€œItâ€™s a win-win situation for law enforcement and patients,â€ Smith said.