Pubdate: Sun, 27 Sep 2015
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Times-Standard


Ah, 1996. Clinton was in the White House, "Braveheart" won Best 
Picture - and California was the first state in the nation to pass a 
medical marijuana ballot initiative.

For some Californians - whether they were yet unborn, or whether 
their lives would be cut short in the 19 years of the War on Drugs 
before California's lawmakers would get their act together and enact 
a regulatory regime for the medical marijuana marketplace their 
constituents had loosed upon the state - it was literally a lifetime ago.

But - for just over two weeks, now - legislation that will finally 
signal the beginning of the end of this legal limbo has sat on Gov. 
Brown's desk, awaiting his signature. Together, as soon as they're 
graced by the stroke of a gubernatorial pen, Assembly Bills 243 and 
266 and Senate Bill 643 will help drag the marijuana industry - some 
of it kicking and screaming - at long last into the light.

"With this legislation, known as Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, 
the Wild West of the medical marijuana industry will be reined in, 
benefiting all of California," writes Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

Some of you Humboldt County residents, having lived here in the "Wild 
West" since 1996, may be requesting a grain or two - or a truckload - 
of salt to help wash that down. But there's more from Bonta, who, 
together with North Coast's state Sen. Mike McGuire and Assemblyman 
Jim Wood, helped craft the trio of bills now on Brown's desk:

"Patients will have more assurances that their products are safe. Law 
enforcement will have a foundation for identifying drugged drivers 
and increased funding to protect the public.

"The environment will be protected from neglect, destruction and 
water diversion. And the medical marijuana industry itself will be 
able to come out of the shadows and receive equal protections under 
the law as state licensed businesses, creating jobs and contributing 
to the economy."

Well, maybe the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act will help 
do all that and maybe it won't, but it's a start. Whether you're for 
or against marijuana, you've got to admit that leaving it on the 
black market hasn't done any favors for Humboldt County in the long 
run. Sure, some folks made a lot of short-term money in the shadows, 
but the long-term costs have been passed along to the rest of us - 
paid in bloodshed, shattered families and environmental devastation - 
since 1996.

That era is finally ending. With California looking at an 
ever-increasing likelihood of legalizing marijuana at the ballot in 
2016, we're going to need all the help we can get on the long road 
ahead. AB 243, AB 266 and SB 643 are the first steps on that path.

Gov. Brown, sign the legislation. We don't need another 20 years in 
the Wild West.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom