Dear Medical Marijuana Supporter,
An Op-Ed urging the counties of Yuba, Sutter and
Colusa to implement the medical marijuana ID card
program was published in todays Appeal Democrat
(posted at bottom of message).
If you live in one of these counties, please take a
few minutes to write a letter to the editor in
response, supporting the medical marijuana ID card
Letters to the Editor are widely read and often
raise awareness of local issues among policy makers
and the public at large. Keeping this discussion in
the press for a prolonged period of time will help
move these counties in the right direction.
Letters must be less than 200 words and must include
your name and can be submitted online through this
Another way you can help ensure local patients are
protected is to contact your county administrators and
urge them to implement the medical marijuana ID card
program. Please visit www.safeaccessnow/cards06.htm,
find your county contact information and call your
local officials today.
For talking/writing points supporting the medical
marijuana ID card program, visit:
Thank you for taking the time to help promote safe and
legal access to medical marijuana for patients in
Yuba, Sutter and Colusa Counties.
Safe Access Now
ph: (707) 291-0076
fx: (866) 204-1341
This Op-Ed will not be published on the
Appeal-Democrat's website; however it was published in
todays print edition.
Sacramento Valley Counties Should Begin Issuing
Medical Marijuana ID Cards
By F. Aaron Smith
A decade ago, when voters passed the landmark
initiative that made possession, cultivation and use
of marijuana for medical purposes legal under
California law, the directive was clear: ensure
patients safe and legal access to their medicine.
Making that a reality, however, has been a challenge.
Sutter Countys ban on medical marijuana dispensaries
has even forced local patients into the black market
for their medicine.
To address the concerns of both the patient and
law-enforcement communities, the state established
guidelines known as the Medical Marijuana Program Act
Part of the California Medical Marijuana Program is
the establishment of a statewide registry system for
qualified patients and their caregivers.
This law mandates that counties make medical marijuana
ID cards available to local patients. Participation in
the program, once available, is entirely voluntary.
Many patients choose to become card-holders because it
greatly reduces their risk of arrest or detainment by
state and local law enforcement. Because the county is
able to set a fee for the ID cards, the program will
be at no additional cost to taxpayers.
Unfortunately, none of the counties in the Sacramento
Valley have implemented the program. Since patients
can only obtain medical marijuana ID cards from their
county of residence, it is imperative that all
counties move forward with the program as soon as
According to Colusa Countys Department of Health and
Human Services, the ID card program will be developed
by October. Yuba and Sutter Counties still have no
timeline in place. The unfortunate fact of the matter
is that many patients, who are sick and dying, do not
have the time to wait for their county to move into
Once the medical marijuana ID card programs are in
place, law-enforcement officers will be able to verify
a patients legal status in minutes by utilizing an
on-line statewide database. This program will not only
further protect patients, it will also free up the
valuable time of peace officers serving the community.
It is for this reason that law-enforcement is
generally supportive of the ID card in the twenty-one
counties with working programs.
Our medical marijuana laws continue to gain broad
support across the political spectrum. An independent
field poll conducted in 2004 found that 74 percent of
voters support the implementation of Californias
medical marijuana laws64 percent of Republicans and
84 percent of Democrats. A clear majority by anyones
Unfortunately, until the medical marijuana ID card is
available everywhere in California, patients will not
have the treatment that they deserve. As those with
family or friends with serious medical conditions, or
personal experience with medical marijuana know, legal
hassles are the last thing a seriously ill or dying
Imagine if you were living with a serious illness with
very few options for treatment, but there was a drug
available that helped you to live as close to a
healthy, productive life as you could reasonably
expect. The only problem is that the medicine your
doctor recommends can easily be mistaken for a form of
the drug that is illegal. At any time, you could be
stopped by a law enforcement officer and have to
provide documentation that you have the drug legally.
While your kids wait for you at home, the officer
tries to reach your doctor, who has already left the
office for the day. The officer decides to confiscate
your medicine and set a court date to work out the
confusion. You have to miss work to go to courtand
even when the judge acknowledges you did nothing
wrong, theres no guarantee that the same thing wont
happen again next week.
Sadly, nearly a thousand patients in Yuba, Sutter and
Colusa Counties who are using marijuana under state
law to treat such afflictions as multiple sclerosis,
AIDS, severe arthritis and cancer, risk facing this
scenario every day.
These counties should immediately begin issuing the
medical marijuana ID cards, as required by state law.
Voters have demanded it, and the health and safety of
local patients depends on it.
Smith is the statewide coordinator with Safe Access
Now, an organization dedicated to the implementation
of fair and consistent guidelines in all California
counties as a safe harbor from arrest under H&S Code
Â§11362.5, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
For more information call, (707) 291-0076 or email