[UPDATE: Not Yet...] Should California's "Medical" Marijuana Be Regulated Like Alcohol?

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Jay Brockman
*See end of post for an update on the state of Ammiano's proposed legislation.

Original Post, Sept. 12, 11:29 a.m.: Last week, the Obama Administration announced it had no right to interfere in states with well-regulated medical or recreational pot industries, leaving the door open for Colorado and Washington States to proceed with plans to legalize recreational weed smoking without fear of federal retaliation.

Here in California, it's too late to prevent the feds from interfering: the Justice Dept. and DEA has been cracking down on dispensaries for almost two years now, and many cities have banned cannabis collectives completely. But a proposed state law, AB604, may provide new protection to pot growers and distributors, by requiring them to be regulated by the state Alcohol Beverage Commission, something that not all medical marijuana activists seem to celebrate.

Whereas previous medical marijuana laws such as Prop. 215 only stated that local authorities should work with medical marijuana activists to allow sick residents to smoke cannabis, AB604, which was introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, (D-San Francisco) would actually mandate a "safe and affordable" statewide distribution system.

To ensure the feds aren't tempted to crack down again, the system, similar to what's being envisioned in Colorado and Washington states, would have to ensure that the pot in question is regulated from "seed to shelf." This would not only ensure the marijuana is harvested and prepared according to state environmental regulations, for example, but also that criminal interests aren't allowed to participate. Presumably, any grow operation that isn't registered with the state would be open to raids and criminal prosecution.

Despite the law's backing from major pot legalization groups such as NORML, not all medical marijuana activists are happy about the idea of regulating weed like booze. "This bill does NOT prevent a city or county from adopting local ordinances that ban the location, operation, or establishment of a cannabis dispensary," one activist complained in an online forum. "Why would the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (A.B.C.) be in charge of medicine? I could understand Adult use being regulated by A.B.C. but most people expect Medicine and Medical services to be regulated by the California Department of Public Health."

That last question may answer itself. Translation: the bad news is that medical marijuana as we know it may be heading for history's ashbin. The good news: as long as it's legal, who cares?

Update, Sept. 13, 12 p.m.: Critics of the bill need not worry: the California Legislature failed to pass AB604 today, meaning that any such bill is off the table until sometime next year.

Here's a brief comment from Dale Gierenger of NORML:

Last-minute efforts to pass a medical marijuana regulation bill fell short as the California legislature wound up its session yesterday. A bill proposed by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (AB 604) and Sen. Darrell Steinberg ran into opposition from local governments and law enforcement. Similar legislation can be expected to be re-introduced next year. In the meantime, California will remain vulnerable to federal raids and prosecutions under the new DOJ policy, which requires that states enact "strong and effective" regulation of marijuana.

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5 comments
ghostladyjames
ghostladyjames

Even though AB604 failed in the assembly yesterday, it does not mean that California does not have regulations. We do, with 215 (the compassionate use program) 420 (the medical marijuana program) and several court decisions. You must have a recommendation from a licensed doctor who is in good standing with the California medical board, a collective must be non-profit, via The Kelly decision, a patient can have as much medicine as their doctor allows, etc. 

Since California does have regulations, the Feds should leave patients and legal collectives alone, and stop any forfeitures in process per the Cole memo. The State (Kamilla Harris) needs to enforce the rules we have on a state level.  

rosiorick
rosiorick

Once again I will state this fact:

Recreational cannabis use is social...

Medical Cannabis Therapy is to relieve pain and suffering...

They are not the same..... Cannabis therapy is neither a Vice or a Sin and it is time we stopped treating the medical cannabis community as if we were criminals.

Medical Cannabis Therapy should be regulated by Dept of Health and Human Services with KNOWLEDGEABLE AND SCIENTIFICALLY AWARE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS!

ethernot
ethernot

No, of course the cops and neocons would be against legislation that might curtail federal enforcement actions in California; that's the last thing they want.

Fortunately, we have an alternative to a legislature dominated by vested interests: public referendum.

The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative for 2014 - www.cchi2014.org - has been submitted for review; if approved, signature gathering will begin next month …  Maybe we can Free the Green in 2014!

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

@rosiorick 

Ok just to point out a fact here to show that you are probably a cop. The old canard about it being tested and approved and administered by the federal govt or agencies and distributed by Walgreens Rite aid etc etc is code for fuck you we are never going to legalize it EVER. Because you know that shit is never going to happen so you keep tossing that red herring in the ring. Just stop dude ok.

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