Pubdate: Wed, 26 Aug 2015
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Appeal-Democrat


Might Make Sense As a Precursor to Approval of Recreational Use; but 
What About Enforcement?

Finally, California legislators seem interested in designing a 
statewide regulatory system for medical marijuana. Not that we have 
much confidence in what the outcome will be. There's a high 
probability that things will get bogged down - not because of 
contention so much as detail.

The Associated Press provided an update on efforts in a story we 
published yesterday.

There have to be a lot of moving parts to a bill governing how 
medical marijuana is grown, harvested, processed, packaged, sold, and 
used responsibly. We should have had a statewide system 20 years ago, 
but instead it was let go. Counties were left to figure out their own 
ordinances  it became sort of an issue of local control. How well has 
that worked? California authorized marijuana use for health purposes 
with a 1996 ballot measure allowing doctors to recommend the drug for 
any ailment. That's when legislators started looking the other way. 
An array of ordinances, passed locally from county to county, city to 
city, was allowed.

As the AP story reported, there's a fair likelihood for voter 
approval of recreational marijuana next year. So lawmakers seem now 
to be looking "to make a serious run at reining in the state's vast 
medical marijuana industry..." It was conjectured that the state is 
looking at instituting statewide regulations as a precursor to 
recreational use. So there are a couple different bills now pending 
in the Legislature that would create state-based regulations for 
medical marijuana growers, manufacturers of pot-infused products, and 
distributors such as storefront dispensaries and delivery services, 
the story said.

The state Assembly last month approved a licensing and oversight plan 
on a bipartisan 62-8 vote. Another measure to create an Office of 
Cannabis Regulation is endorsed by both the cannabis industry and the 
California Police Chiefs Association.

Why not sometime in the previous 19 years? Was it truly legitimate to 
forego formal regulation at the state level because local governments 
should have the say? Or was it just avoidance of a sticky issue 
that's going to seem, to a lot of legislators and constituents, like 
a topic that's a lot less important than the amount of time and 
intricacy it will wind up using?

One benefit of the state's procrastination: they can examine the 
effectiveness of any number of local government ordinances.

One lesson learned might be that it's not the ordinance so much as 
the enforcement that makes a difference. Yuba County drastically 
toughened up it's regulatory ordinance because people were flaunting 
the law even when it was much more liberal. Some of the latest busts 
are of grows that are many, many times over what the previous 
ordinance would have allowed. No one, really, is quibbling much with 
smalltimers ... and big growers are still at it.

Having county-by-county pot laws makes as much sense as 
county-by-county moonshine laws would. It's better to have statewide 
consistency - it might be good if the state buckled down and built 
reasonable regulations.

But it's not going to do any good, really, until there's funding for 
regular and thorough enforcement.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom