Medical marijuana users could get identity cards designed to protect them from arrest by state and local law enforcement officers under legislation approved Monday by the state Senate.
The measure by Sen. John Vasconcellos of Santa Clara would require the state Department of Health Services to develop the card program. County health departments would verify the qualifications of applicants.
Proposition 215 of 1996 allows Californians with cancer, HIV and certain other chronic medical conditions to grow and use marijuana to ease nausea and other health problems, if a physician recommends it.
Supporters say that the identity cards would help law enforcement officers determine who has a valid medical reason for using marijuana.
A 23 to 11 vote sent the bill to the Assembly.
Cultivation, possession and use of marijuana remains a crime under federal law.