The all-Republican Orange County Supervisors voted 4-1 today in favor of allowing county residents who suffer from a variety of ailments to smoke and possess medical marijuana without being harassed by cops. And yes, OC cops do harass medical cannabis smokers, folks: You read it here first in "Dude, Where's My Pot?"
Or was it here?
Now, Orange County residents who have doctors' notes under Proposition 215, the 1996 state law legalizing pot smoking for medical reasons, can obtain ID cards saying they're allowed to possess and smoke cannabis. Thirty-one counties in California have adopted similar programs in the past four years — ever since Sacramento lawmakers passed Senate Bill 420, which called on counties to create the ID cards (420 happens — just happens(?) — to be pothead lingo for getting high).
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The news was welcomed by local medical-marijuana activists who have been pushing for the program for months, but not so much by the Orange County Sheriff's Department or the district attorney's office, both of which argued against ID cards. The lone dissenting vote came from Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who refused to endorse marijuana as medicine because it is still illegal under federal law.
Supposedly, under the new ID card program, anyone with an ID who is stopped by a cop in their car and who has a bag of weed in the trunk or who is busted in the act of toking up, simply presents the ID card and — presto — they don't get arrested. Until now, individual officers have had the authority to either arrest people with doctors' notes for pot possesion, confiscate the marijuana, or do nothing, depending on how legitimate they think the patient is.
Will the ID card program really keep police from busting medical-cannabis smokers? At the supes' last meeting, on April 17, when they voted to delay their vote 90 days, both Steve Bishop, an assistant sheriff, and DA Tony Rackauckas told the elected officials who pay their salaries they'll keep confiscating marijuana for evidence in prosecutions, regardless of the board's final vote.
The OC Health Care Agency has 120 days to implement the ID card program. Stay tuned to see whether OC law-enforcement follows through on its threat. . . .