SAN FRANCISCO — California has seven times as many residents as Colorado, but nearly nine times fewer medical-marijuana users, at least on paper.
And as far as record-keepers know, the most populous state, home to the nation's first and most liberal medical-marijuana laws, also has a smaller number of pot patients than Arizona, Hawaii, Michigan and Montana.
If those statistics look off-kilter, they should. The reality is that no one knows how many people are legally using marijuana in California because the state — with hundreds of pot stores and clinics that issue medical- marijuana recommendations — does not require residents to register as patients. Of the 16 states that allow the medicinal use of cannabis, it is one of only three without such a requirement.
Now, with California's medical-marijuana industry laboring under a renewed federal crackdown that has forced many storefront dispensaries to close, a Democratic state lawmaker has introduced legislation that, if passed, would give authorities a much clearer count of the drug's bona fide consumer base.
The bill would require anyone who wants to claim a legal right to use marijuana for health reasons to apply for a county-issued identification card. Marijuana patients also would have to say whether they plan to grow their own pot or to purchase it from a patient collective, and name the collective.
The changes are designed to make it easier for police and sheriff's deputies to identify who can legally consume and grow marijuana and who is using medical-marijuana laws as a cover for illegal drug possession or dealing, supporters say.
Valid cardholders in California's voluntary marijuana registry, as of last June
Cardholders in Colorado's mandatory marijuana registry, as of December
Reported by the Associated Press on March 25, 2012
Source: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com/news/mari...ighs-creating-registry-medical-pot-users-amid
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California weighs creating registry of medical pot users amid renewed federal crackdo