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Medical Marijuana

A Better Solution?

By Greg Cahill

WITH LITTLE FANFARE, the Marin County Board of Supervisors last week approved a plan to issue certificates to help patients verify that they are authorized to cultivate, possess, and use medical marijuana.

Starting next month, Marin's Department of Health and Human Services will provide a Certificate of Independent Verification for $25 to any county resident who brings a note from an approved physician confirming that marijuana has been prescribed for use under the State Health Code.

The innovative program, which will be administered by Marin County Health Director Thomas Peters, is designed to protect the medical records of patients and prevent legitimate medical marijuana users from being forced into the criminal-justice system as they are under the newly adopted Sonoma County guidelines. It is modeled after a certificate program first developed in Arcata in Humboldt County. A similar program is set to go into effect next month in Santa Clara County.

"Officers will still have to use their best judgement in some cases," Mike Gridley, Marin's chief assistant district attorney, told the Marin Independent Journal, adding that the program should provide a quick and easy way for law enforcement officers to determine if a person legally possesses pot. "I would suspect that if a person is growing 500 plants, a certificate is not going to convince the police that the marijuana is for that person's use."

The certificate program has the blessing of state Attorney General Dan Lungren, a staunch opponent of Prop. 215, since the program doesn't sanction a Cannibas Buyers' Club. Lungren still objects to the legal distribution of the weed through private clubs.

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From the Dec. 11-17, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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