Register Orange County Medical Marijuana Patients, Lawmakers Say

Orange County medical marijuana patients may soon be required to register their status with the state, which lawmakers say will help to further legitimize the industry.

Our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys support the rights of patients to reap the medically-proven benefits of cannabis for a wide range of ailments. But varied attempts at regulation across the state, combined with an unnecessary federal crackdown on dispensaries, has muddied the legal waters on the issues. Lawmakers believe that a statewide registration system could help legal users avoid criminal prosecution.

Medical marijuana attorneys remain skeptical.

The Huffington Post reports that of the 16 states that have passed medical marijuana legislation, California, which is the largest, has the least number of patients – on paper. Only three of those 16 states require patient registration. California technically has fewer patients than Hawaii, Arizona, Montana, Michigan and Oregon.

However, the truth is that the exact number of medical marijuana patients in Orange County and throughout the state isn’t really clear. That’s something Democratic Senator Nora Campos wants to change. The bill would require legal users to file for a county identification card, and state records would note if the individual was purchasing the marijuana from a collective – and name which one – or if they intended to cultivate their own.

These changes, she said, would make it easier for law enforcement to determine who would be allowed to legally grow and use marijuana and who is simply exploiting the law to cover up illegal drug use and dealing.

The law enforcement lobbyist who wrote the bill said the intent is not to discourage people from consuming marijuana, but simply to organize in such a way that people who are legally using it won’t be harassed and those who aren’t using it legally can be stopped. Still, there isn’t any language in the bill that underscores that protection. Medical marijuana patients have become accustomed to empty promises – just look at what the Obama administration promised at the outset, versus the actions they are taking now.

The state already has a voluntary ID card program, which was designed for this very purpose. However, only a small percentage of patients have registered. In fact, as of late year, less than 1,000 individuals had done so.

In contrast, Colorado patients are mandated to register. There, the state has issued more than 82,000 registration cards. If California did the same, it’s estimated there would be some 615,000 registration cards issued.

One reason for the lack of participation in the voluntary program obviously stems from the federal crackdown that has continued over the last several months. Individuals may be concerned that as long as marijuana sale and use is deemed a violation of federal law, registering for the program may be akin to admitting they have committed a crime – even though their actions are perfectly legal according to state law.

The current system does have some privacy protections in place. For example, patients are identified by a number instead of their name. However, many are reticent to input their personal information into a government database, especially considering recent actions by federal authorities.

Our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys will be closely following the developments of this bill.

The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Southern California– including growers, dispensaries and collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call 949-375-4734 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
California Medical Marijuana Numbers: Amount Of Patients With Pot Prescriptions Is Difficult To Gauge Because California Doesn’t Require Registration, By LISA LEFF, The Huffington Post
More Blog Entries:
Lawmakers Write Letter to President Obama about Enforcement Of Medical Marijuana in Los Angeles, Nation, Nov. 12, 2011, Orange County Medical Marijuana Lawyers Blog

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