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California Halts Then Restarts Its Medical Marijuana ID Program

California Halts Then Restarts Its Medical Marijuana ID Program


Under fire from activists who threatened a lawsuit, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has reinstated the state's medicinal marijuana ID program, which his administration halted in the wake of a Supreme Court decision upholding federal laws that prohibit any marijuana use. The suspension of the program came just days before it was set for statewide expansion from its initial four-county tryout. State health director Sandra Shewry says the program was shelved because it was unclear whether participants and state employees were at risk of federal prosecution. But pointing out that attorneys general in Oregon and Hawaii had already upheld their states' medicinal marijuana programs, the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project and the Drug Policy Alliance threatened to sue Schwarzenegger to force him to fully support the state's voter-approved medicinal marijuana law. California's attorney general eventually sided with the two groups, leading Schwarzenegger to relent and reinstate the ID program. 'California's reinstatement of the card program squarely confirms that state medical marijuana laws across the country will remain completely valid and in force,' Alan Hopper, an attorney with the ACLU, says of Schwarzenegger's reversal. 'Patients can breathe a sigh of relief.' Meanwhile, lawmakers in Rhode Island thumbed their noses in late June at the U.S. Supreme Court decision by overwhelmingly approving a statewide medicinal marijuana law. Republican governor Donald Carcieri has threatened to veto the measure, but lawmakers say they have more than enough votes to override a veto should he do so. If the bill becomes law, Rhode Island will join 10 other states that permit medicinal marijuana use.

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