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Monday, March 26, 2012

Pot Grows on File: Bill to Force Medical Marijuana Users to Register with the State

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 8:02 AM

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Whatever scent you may detect on street corners on a sunny day in the Mission, know this: Marijuana users aren't exactly out of the closet. The city's medical marijuana activist groups continue to struggle to organize and turn out supporters, who have proven less than eager to go public.

Folks who use medical marijuana legally in California do so with nothing more than a note from a doctor (a recommendation to use medical cannabis; the oft-misused term "card" is merely a laminated representation thereof). An optional state ID card program has proved to be unpopular: The state has fewer than 10,000 users who paid the extra $103 for a state-sanctioned card, according to an Associated Press report released on Sunday.

But this could change if a South Bay assemblywoman has her way. All medical marijuana users would be required to register with the state under legislation proposed by San Jose Assemblywoman Nora Campos, who is taking it one step further: Anyone who plans on cultivating cannabis would have to fess up to this, and provide details about where they want to grow. That information would then be added to the registry on file with the state.

Guess who's growing pot? The state can tell you!

Campos' bill, AB 2456, adds language to existing state law that allows for the voluntary ID card program. The bill specifically mandates any "qualified patient who wishes to engage in the medical use of marijuana" to get the state ID card, and anyone who plans on growing pot must provide "the physical address of the location where the medical marijuana will be cultivated."

Such lists have already proved to be unacceptable among medical marijuana users in San Francisco. Last year, they reacted with overwhelming opposition to the Department of Public Health's plan to introduce this same kind of list.

This is in part because few bogeymen frighten pot users more than the government, which -- some will say -- already maintains a master list of marijuana users that is shareable with law enforcement, potential employers, and anyone else who is out to get a smoker. That this poppycock could become true -- and could become public record accessible by anyone including law enforcement -- is not exactly winning hearts and minds.

Law enforcement lobbyists wrote the bill, according to the Associated Press, which interviewed the lobbyist who boasted to the new outlet about the bill he wrote.

Cops need help weeding out legitimate patients from those "using medical marijuana laws as a cover for" illegal activity, according to Randy Perry of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the bill's author.

"We are simply trying to organize it a little bit so our law enforcement officers won't have to arrest people who can legally have it, and won't have to confiscate their legally grown marijuana plants when there is a lot of crime and a lot of criminals they need to be going after," said Perry.

Medical marijuana advocates loathe the bill, which is "blatantly unconstitutional," according to California NORML. No other users of state-recognized medication must give up the location of, say, their stash of pills.

The bill has yet to be called for a hearing in committee.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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