Pubdate: Tue, 10 Sep 2013
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2013 SF Newspaper Company LLC
Author: Chris Roberts


San Francisco Supervisors, Oaksterdam official speak at medical
marijuana rally at City Hall

Inspired by a federal Justice Department memo, a long-stymied effort
to regulate medical cannabis at the state level in California was
revived Monday.

But in order for the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Control Act from
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, to become law, a months-long
legislative process will need to be completed by Friday - and will
need to overcome the resistance from law enforcement lobbies and
Sacramento Republicans, which foiled similar attempts at reform over
the past year.

California was the first state in the country to allow the medical use
of marijuana in 1996. Since then, 19 other states and the District of
Columbia have passed similar laws. "" style="border: 0px none;
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However, California law places the responsibility of regulating the
drug's use to cities and counties.

The result is a "patchwork" of inconsistent and sometimes conflicting
rules and limits, which federal law enforcement has used as
justification to shut down and prosecute state-legal marijuana operations.

Nine of The City's medical marijuana dispensaries have been shut down
under federal pressure in less than two years.

Reacting to limited legalization of marijuana for adult use in
Colorado and Washington, Deputy Attorney General James Cole suggested
in an Aug. 29 memo that states in which medical marijuana use is
allowed within a "strong regulatory framework" would not see federal

That helped revive Ammiano's legislation, which if approved would
create a new division within the state Department of Alcoholic
Beverage Control to oversee the medical marijuana industry.

Mandatory commercial licenses to grow, transport and sell the drug
would be issued by the Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation and
Enforcement, which would have peace officers to enforce the rules.

Pre-existing local rules would be grandfathered in, and cities and
counties would be free to add additional taxes or rules such as zoning

Ammiano's bill, which is supported by labor unions, must clear the
state Legislature by the end of the week. If it passes both the
Assembly and Senate, it must be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown
within 12 days.

Ammiano did not provide comment by press deadline Monday.

Marijuana in all forms - including non-psychoactive industrial hemp -
remains illegal under federal law.

Despite calls from law enforcement leaders such as Attorney General
Kamala Harris for the Legislature to pass uniform rules on medical
marijuana, other efforts to create uniform statewide marijuana
regulations have failed over the past two years.

A similar Ammiano bill was defeated in May and in 2012, and a bill in
the state Senate that would make "guidelines" from the Attorney
General's Office binding law was defeated after lobbying from law
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