July 9, 2008

Medical IDs for Marijuana Wait for Ruling

By Brad Branan, The Fresno Bee, Calif.

Jul. 9--Fresno County officials want a state appeals court to rule on identification cards for medical marijuana users before deciding whether the county should start distributing them.

The state started asking counties to issue ID cards to medical marijuana users in 2005, nearly a decade after voters approved such use in a statewide initiative.

Forty of the state's 58 counties issue ID cards, which certify that a doctor has prescribed the drug.

Several medical marijuana users on Tuesday asked Fresno County supervisors to issue the cards. Some of them said they've been needlessly detained by law enforcement officials, while others said they fear arrest.

Dawn Nolan of Fresno said she has been using marijuana following a 2002 crash with a drunken driver. Now disabled, Nolan worries about driving home after purchasing marijuana in Tulare County. "I don't want to see anyone arrested for something they need," she said.

But Sheriff Margaret Mims asked supervisors to hold off on a decision until the appeals court rules. She said issuing the cards might encourage medical marijuana users to drive under the influence of the drug.

The appeals court is expected to rule in September, in a case filed by San Diego County over the state's ID law.

The reporter can be reached at [email protected] or (559) 441-6679.


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