Saturday, July 09, 2005

"The Supreme Court said in a 6-3 decision that people who smoke marijuana because their doctors recommend it to ease pain... can be prosecuted."

Calif. Suspends Medical Marijuana Plan

By LISA LEFF,
Associated Press Writer
Fri Jul 8, 9:59 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - California health officials suspended a program Friday that had begun providing patients who smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons with state-issued identification cards.

State Health Director Sandra Shewry has asked the state attorney general's office to review a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling to determine whether the ID program would put patients and state employees at risk of federal prosecution.

"I am concerned about unintended potential consequences of issuing medical marijuana ID cards that could affect medical marijuana users, their families and staff of the California Department of Health Services," Shewry said.

Last month, the Supreme Court said in a 6-3 decision that people who smoke marijuana because their doctors recommend it to ease pain or other conditions can be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws.

The ruling did not strike down laws in California and nine other states that permit medical cannabis use, but it said federal drug laws take precedence.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer said his office would review the health department's request.

Complying with a state mandate that lawmakers passed after California voters approved a medical marijuana law in 1996, the state health department in May launched a pilot pot card program in three Northern California counties.

One purpose of the cards is to give medical pot users a way to show they have a legitimate reason for possessing pot if they are stopped by law enforcement. So far, cards have been issued to 123 people under the pilot program, which was due to expand statewide on Aug. 1.

Other counties and cities that issue their own medical marijuana ID cards to local residents, such as San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, are unaffected by the state's action.

SOURCE - http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050709/ap_on_re_us/medical_marijuana