Pubdate: Sun, 18 Oct 2015
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Record Searchlight


Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills recently aimed at giving the 
state control over medical marijuana.

Nearly 20 years after Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana and 
allowed local communities to accept or reject dispensaries and grows, 
it's about time; the clarity is well overdue. But we still can't look 
for any real change soon: The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety 
Act doesn't take effect until Jan. 1, 2018.

A stretch of confusion and disorientation is likely. This is 
marijuana and state government, after all.

The state has a lot of setting up to do. The Bureau of Marijuana 
Regulation, for example, must be established within the Department of 
Consumer Affairs. That bureau needs a director, who will be approved 
by the governor and confirmed by the state Legislature. We shudder to 
think of the possibilities of that latter process. The Department of 
Pesticide Regulation and the Department of Public Health will also 
have major responsibilities. The University of California will be 
involved, studying how marijuana affects driving and coming up with 
recommendations about impaired driver standards.

In the absence of cohesive laws, much time and money have been spent 
on lawsuits and haggling, and communities have made their own rules 
as they fought their own legal battles. It's been a win for lawyers 
and a disaster for everyone else.

Here in the North State, it will take time for officials to fully 
understand what the laws mean. One thing the legislation itself makes 
clear, however, is that local laws such as those in Shasta and Tehama 
counties take precedence. State regulation doesn't supplant those 
rules, it adds a layer above them.

A ballot-measure wild card could come in November 2016. Various 
organizations hope to get measures onto the state ballot to make 
California the fifth state in the nation to legalize cannabis for 
recreational use, joining Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska. At 
least the state law is on the books before this measure is determined.

So the state action is a start, but it is far from the last word.

"We give it a B or a B-minus if you were grading it. There's still 
work to do," said Bob Williams, a Tehama County supervisor who helped 
fashion the law as a member of the Rural County Representatives of 
California and the California State Association of Counties. "It's 
not everything we wanted."

Williams said the thing he likes best about the three-bill package is 
the local control it allows - that counties such as Shasta and 
Tehama, and cities within those counties, can keep tighter legal 
controls on weed. For example, the city of Redding does not allow 
retail marijuana sales; the city of Shasta Lake does.

This page has been no fan of Measure A, Shasta County's somewhat 
disingenuous rules that essentially outlaw growing medical marijuana 
at all (technically you can if you build a fancy and expensive 
structure, but the county recently couldn't say for sure that's been 
done - even once).

But even in the case of Measure A, we're glad to see local control 
preserved. Lawmakers were wise not to interfere with communities' 
right to set their own limits.

Rick Arons, owner of Grow On Consignment Hydro Store and an opponent 
of Measure A, is not so sure about California's new rules - but not 
for the reasons you might think. Significantly, he expects the clear 
regulations and the flow of money from fees to create an environment 
where corporate ownership could push in.

We're not so sure that would be a bad thing. If California's going to 
have legal marijuana - and especially if that law grows broader - the 
industry will have to get more buttoned down. Some of its Wild West 
stoner ethos would be lost. That works for us.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom