Pubdate: Wed, 28 May 2014
Source: SF Weekly (CA)
Copyright: 2014 Village Voice Media
Author: Chris Roberts


Possible Futures for Marijuana in California

It's okay. You can admit it: You neither know nor care what goes on in
the state Legislature in Sacramento.

All you care to know is if your car is now more expensive to register
(it is), and what Junior will learn in the local school that's been
severely underfunded so that old folks can pay low taxes on the house
they bought before you were born (Junior's learning entrepreneurship,
hopefully; today's PTA bake sale to fund pencils is tomorrow's venture
round for a cupcake app startup).

You may also be interested to know when marijuana is legalized in
California. The short answer is: not anytime soon. But things are
definitely happening right now. At the Capitol, bills are being
revised, deals are being made, lobbyists are getting paid.

And the sum of this flurry of activity could add up to

For weed, 2014 has already been a shocker year. The state's powerful
police lobby proposed a set of rules to regulate medical marijuana, an
issue they'd deal with previously with handcuffs, drug dogs, and jail

Granted, a cop-regulated California cannabis industry banned hash
outright and limited people's abilities to get their hands on THC-rich
weed - but it was a start.

Then the conflict: The cops' idea to put California's billion-dollar
cannabis industry in the hands of the state Department of Public
Health clashed with the pot lobby's idea to put Alcoholic Beverage
Control in charge. (Conveniently, the state's doctors weren't on
board, either).

Now the cops are looking for a new state agency to take charge of
weed. At press time, there was no word on who it would be (or if they
wanted the job).

Meanwhile, the pro-pot forces are dug in. And to make it nice and
messy, a nuclear option looms: Key legislators on both sides are in a
position to kill any proposal they don't like. The deadline to move
things forward is Friday.

None of this explains why writing rules for its weed industry puts
California in a paralytic fit. To explain the stalemate, and why the
status quo of disputed rules and constant squabbling over what the
state's nearly-18-year old medical marijuana law means, it's useful to
explore each interested party's perspective.

The police chiefs say that an ABC-regulated cannabis market is a fig
leaf for big marijuana to make loads of money. Their vision of the
future is something like this:


CANCER PATIENT IN WHEELCHAIR: I need some oil to shrink my tumors and
some tincture to whet my appetite, please.

POT SELLER RESEMBLING GUY FIERI: We have a special on Marlboro Greens!
Buy three packs of shake, get a free pipe - and a voucher for 10
percent off tattoos next door! Yeah!

PATIENT: Perhaps you misunderstood me. I'm very sick. I need some
specific med

GUY REEFER: You need some dab bar! There's a free Snickers Hash Bar
for you if you dab so hard you pass out. Wheel yourself over, dude!

PATIENT: I never thought I'd say it, but chemo is better than this

COP LOBBY CHORUS: Aha! We told you - this isn't medical, it's

That's the liquor store model, the cops say. Their proposal, though,
creates such heavy regulation and rubber-stamps local governments'
abilities to ban outdoor growing, indoor growing, and dispensaries

Cannabis advocates, legalization pushers, and drug-war opponents think
absurd scenarios would ensue:


POLICE: Doctor, give this man some marijuana.

HEALTHY-LOOKING MAN WITH CHRONIC PAIN: Yes! Please. I'm a sick man and
nothing else works.

LEERY DOCTOR: Ahem. Well. (looks through rule book, sees risk of
losing DEA license to prescribe powerful pharmaceuticals when offering
a federally illegal drug) Can I interest you in some powerful

MAN: That's why I'm here. Opiates make me sick - and make me hooked on
opiates. I just got off Oxy; can I have some weed, please? I'm not
able to grow it at home.

DOCTOR: (looks through portfolio, sees student loans) Can I interest
you in some powerful pharmaceuticals?

MAN: Police! I can't seem to get any of the marijuana to which I am
entitled, via an old law.

SATISFIED POLICE: Everything's coming up cop!

POT LOBBY CHORUS: "Aha! We told you - this isn't regulation, it's

This is the Sacramento standoff over marijuana. It's been going on for
years, and hasn't gone away yet. But at least there's an argument
happening. A year ago, they were refusing to even have a conversation.
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MAP posted-by: Matt