State Health Director Sandra Shewry has asked the state Attorney
General's office to review the court ruling to determine whether
the ID program would put patients and state employees at risk of
"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.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer did not
immediately return a call seeking comment.
Last month, the U.S. 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 said federal drug laws take precedence.
The state health department in May launched a pilot pot card
program in three Northern California counties - Amador, Del Norte
and Mendocino. 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 by the end of the
summer. Following Friday's move, officials in the three counties
already issuing the cards were told not to process any more
applications. The health department also has postponed processing
requests from other counties that wanted to start issuing the
Other counties and cities that issue their own cards, such as
San Francisco, are unaffected by the state's action.
Besides being worried that state or local government workers
could be charged with aiding and abetting individuals in committing
federal crimes, Shewry said she was concerned that information
gathered to produce the cards might be seized by federal
authorities to identify and prosecute medical marijuana patients.