State rejects Lassen's medical marijuana ID request
Chapman made the motion on June 26 to approve the resolution only if it stated the board was resolved to add the “not valid under federal law” stamp to any cards issued for Lassen County. His motion passed unanimously.
However, District 4 Supervisor and Board Chairman Brian Dahle immediately added, “We’ll see that again in a couple of weeks.”
About a week later the county received “a verbal statement from the state saying that we could not alter the card,” Assistant County Administrative Officer Kevin Mannel said on Tuesday, Aug. 7. He asked county staff to verify the verbal statement.
“I asked staff to get that in writing,” Mannel said, “because if we need to go back to the supervisors, we need to verify the person making the statement from the Department of Health Services.”
The staff now has a copy of a written statement from the state. Mannel said he plans to take the letter back to the board and ask if its members plan to continue with the resolution requiring the stamp — to which “it appears we cannot comply,” he said — or if the board will agree to pass the original resolution, which complied with state law. Mannel said he expects to have the issue back on the board agenda by the second week of September.
The letter dated July 24 from Karen Parr, the chief of the medically indigent services section of the California Department of Public Health, states the cards, or MMICs, are produced through a contracted vendor “and the production price of the MMIC specified within the contract is based on the current design, therefore, it cannot be changed.”
It said any design changes would increase the card costs and any increase “must be passed on to the counties. Furthermore, in order to assist law enforcement in verifying valid medical marijuana patients or caregivers the information contained on the MMICs must be consistent statewide.”
The medical marijuana ID card application informs patients they are not protected from prosecution under federal law, Parr’s letter said, providing “sufficient notification to patients and primary caregivers of possible federal prosecution.”
Chapman said the board could reconsider the program if the state rejected the stamp.
There is no provision for individual counties alter the cards under the process established by Senate Bill 420, which implements Prop 215 and became law in January 2004. SB 420 specifies a patient, who has documentation from a physician verifying the client suffers from a serious medical condition and the use of medical marijuana is appropriate, must pay a fee. The board’s resolution set that fee at $150, or $117 for those served by MediCal.
The county must verify the address of the person applying for a card by checking proof of residency and a government-issued photo ID. The state issues the card after the county health department screens the application and reviews it for completeness. If anything is missing the state automatically denies the application.
Once the application is entered into a computer the state will issue a card within five days. The county will notify the user when the card is available for pickup.
Saying the state coerced the counties into approving the program, Chapman said it would be easy to go to the local office supply store and have a stamp made. He added SB 420 does not prohibit the stamp being added to the card.
“Let the state say, ‘No you can’t do that, and if that’s the case let them come up with a way to revise it,’” Chapman said in June.
At the June 25 meeting, Mannel agreed SB 420 conflicts with federal law. But he said more than half the state’s counties have already implemented the ID card program, including Shasta and Plumas counties. He said approval of the program does not take any authority away from the sheriff’s department to enforce DUI laws.
Sheriff Steve Warren said his deputies would continue to arrest anyone suspected of driving under the influence regardless of whether they carried a medical marijuana card.
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