Pubdate: Mon, 10 Mar 2014
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2014 The Associated Press
Author: Lisa Leff, The Associated Press


Legislation Would Regulate the Industry That Has Had Little Oversight 
Since 1996.

San Francisco (AP) - A California lawmaker has introduced legislation 
to regulate the state's freewheeling medical marijuana industry - the 
farmers who grow the drug, the hundreds of storefront shops that sell 
it and especially the doctors who write recommendations allowing 
people to use it.

The state in 1996was the first to authorize marijuana use for health 
purposes, but to this day no one knows how many dispensaries and 
patients California has orwhat conditions pot is being used to treat 
because the loosely worded law did not give government agencies a 
role in tracking the information.

The bill introduced by state Sen. Lou Correa marks a milestone not 
only because it would provide state oversight of the multi-billion 
dollar industry for the first time but because it is likely to get 
serious consideration in Sacramento after years of inaction.

SB1262 is the brainchild of the California Police Chiefs Association 
and the League of California Cities, two politically influential 
groups that have stood in the way of previous efforts to legitimize 
pot growers and dispensaries by subjecting them to state control and taxation.

"This legislation seems counterintuitive, but we polled our 
membership and over 90 percent of the chiefs felt that, regardless of 
how you felt about the marijuana issue itself, there needed to be a 
responsible public safety approach to this," said Covina Police Chief 
Kim Raney, president of the chiefs association.

Medical marijuana advocates, who have lobbied unsuccessfully for a 
statewide regulatory scheme they hoped would make the industry less 
susceptible to federal raids and arrests, is taking a wait-and-see approach.

The bill co-sponsored by the league and the police chiefs' 
association would require the California Department of Public Health 
to license dispensaries and cultivation sites but only if they first 
had secured operating permits from local jurisdictions.

The department also would develop "quality assurance" procedures for 
testing marijuana for bacteria, mold and nonorganic pesticides, which 
growers would be prohibited from using.

The legislation also imposes substantial new requirements on doctors. 
If passed, it would allow medical marijuana recommendations to be 
given only by either a patient's primary care doctor or a licensed 
specialist to whom the doctor has referred the patient.

California Medical Association spokeswoman MollyWeedn said the 
organization has not had a chance to review Correa's bill but would 
probably take a position on it in the coming months.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom