In 1996, the voters of California passed Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act. Within California, the Act allows for the recommendation by a physician for the medical use of marijuana by a patient, and the cultivation, transportation and use of marijuana for medical purposes by patients and caregivers. The Compassionate Use Act exempts patients, caregivers and physicians who recommend the use of marijuana for medical purposes from criminal laws, punishment, or the denial of any rights or privileges. To address uncertainties and clarify the scope of the Act for patients, caregivers, law enforcement and others, Senate Bill (SB) 420 (Chapter 875, Statutes of 2003) was written into law in December of 2003 (see California Health and Safety Code, Article 2.5, Sections 11362.7 through 11362.83).
The Medical Marijuana Identification Program (MMIP), within the California Department of Public Health, was established in 2004 to facilitate the registration of qualified patients and their caregivers, through a statewide identification system. Participation in the program is voluntary for patients and the patientís primary caregiver. Through their county of residence, qualified patients and their caregivers may apply for and be issued an identification card. This card will be used to verify those patients and caregivers that have authorization to possess, grow, transport and/or use medical marijuana in California. To facilitate the verification of authorized cardholders, a registration database is available on the Internet: www.calmmp.ca.gov.
The costs of the Program are fee supported. Both the state and counties have authority to cover their expenses through application fees.
Los Angeles County is complying with the State mandate to establish the MMIP through the Department of Public Health. Appointments for ID cards can now be made by calling 1-866-621-2204.