Where is the Love?

by Terrie Frye on February 20, 2007

The State of California, because of its own incompetence, is raising the cost for obtaining a state Medical Cannabis ID card almost 400%.

On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2007, between 75 and 100 patients, caregivers and activists gathered at noon at SF General Hospital (where applications for the State’s Medical Cannabis ID Card are taken) to protest the almost 400% hike in the cost of obtaining that card, and ask “Where is the love?” This action was organized by Axis of Love, a San Francisco Medical Cannabis Patients’ Advocacy group, the Harvey Milk LGBT Club Cannabis Caucus, and a Collective of Compassionate Caregivers.

The new fee will go from $46 to $173, and from $23 to $86 for Medi-Cal patients. Seniors and veterans and any other low income folks who are not on Medi-Cal do not get any price break at all. The cards must be renewed annually, putting undue financial strain on low-income disabled people who use medical cannabis. It prevents some from even buying cards in the first place, thus denying them access to dispensaries, and leaving them without the protection medical cannabis cards offer.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced a resolution to reinstate the former city cards, bringing back a more affordable and more anonymous system for patients. However, Supervisor Ed Jew stalled the vote by having the resolution sent to committee for further consideration, which will happen in March * after the fee hike takes effect.

The fee hike is not the only problem with the State Card System. While we have been told things like the State Medical Cannabis ID Card would offer us better protection, especially when traveling outside San Francisco (but only in CA), as the Program continues, we have continued to learn more about it.

One thing that we have learned is that while the City kept the patients’ identification secret and only kept only our number on file, the State is doing just the opposite. We are being treated like criminals with an ID badge, a Star of David, a Pink Triangle if you will. All of our information is being stored in a public database, accessible to police officers and others anywhere in the world, as if we were common criminals not patients* isn’t this what they do with sex offenders?

Also, even if one is stopped for a missing tail-light lens, when this information comes up it gives the officer the reason he needs to search your vehicle. I myself do not own a vehicle, and my life is pretty much an open book * I’ve nothing to hide that I can think of. But I am against this because it is profiling, sure as you’re born, there is nothing else to call it, and we as patients are outraged by it.

Many patients have solved the problem by procuring a card in another county that still issues them and which is accepted at their preferred dispensaries. As I understand it, this practice would no longer be acceptable in San Francisco after a dispensary has been permitted. Also, this being the case, it would seem obvious to me that our own City Attorney’s Office should have no problem giving reimplementation the go-ahead.

However, reimplementation of the City Card Program would not even be a question had the state modelled it’s program after it. It had privacy, affordability, and it even made a little money * although they never said how much! But the state dropped the ball, they didn’t make the money back to repay the loan taken out to start the progam in the first place, and now the state is putting the cost of its own incompetence on the backs of the patients.

There is some concern that if San Francisco drops out of the State Card Program that the program will fold, and we should have some consideration for patients in less medical cannabis-friendly California cities and towns. But we have learned that many patients and patient advocacy groups in those cities and towns don’t want us here in San Francisco to give up the fight because they do not want to sign on to the state card program the way it is now, and who can blame them? None of us should have to give up our privacy, or be forced to pay for the state’s own imcompetence.

Filed under: Archive