Pubdate: Sun, 20 Dec 2015
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Los Angeles Times
Author: Patrick McGreevy


State Rules for Pot Dispensaries Created Deadline in Error.

SACRAMENTO - A mistake in drafting new state regulations for medical 
marijuana in California has cities and counties scrambling to ban or 
restrict dispensaries before a March 1 deadline - after which, they 
fear, more lax state rules may apply.

Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), an author of legislation setting 
new rules for the industry, said the deadline was inserted into the 
bill in error, and he plans emergency legislation next month to remove it.

Medical cannabis dispensaries have been banned in recent weeks in 19 
cities, including Antioch, Artesia, La Canada Flintridge, Newport 
Beach, Palm Desert and Pasadena. Dozens of the other 463 cities in 
the state are considering new bans or restrictions, creating panic 
among those who support medical marijuana.

"During the scramble at the end of the legislative session this year, 
an inadvertent drafting error placed a deadline on local 
jurisdictions," Wood wrote to the state's cities and counties. "My 
intent to remove the deadline has bipartisan and stakeholder support."

The promise of an emergency fix was welcomed by Dale Gieringer, 
executive director of California NORML, the National Organization for 
the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which supports the legalization of marijuana.

"This letter should help cool down local officials who have been 
stampeding to restrict cultivation without adequate consideration," 
Gieringer said Friday.

California voters approved a ballot measure nearly 20 years ago that 
legalized the sale of medical marijuana to patients in the state, but 
it was not until Oct. 9 of this year that Gov. Jerry Brown signed 
legislation creating state regulations for the growth, transport and 
sale of cannabis.

The state law says that local cities and counties can adopt their own 
rules. Voters in Los Angeles did so in 2013, approving a measure that 
calls for a sharply reduced number of pot shops as well as taxes on 
those operating legally.

Wood said he hopes to have the emergency legislation signed and in 
effect before March 1. If action takes place afterward, he said he 
believes there is solid legal ground for cities continuing to have 
local control once the law is approved.

Industry officials say cities should be given more time to consider 
the pros and cons of regulatory schemes.

"When localities rush to ban cannabis activity they not only deny 
their patient residents access to compassionate care, they also lose 
critical tax revenues and open the door for dangerous illicit 
activity to take root in their communities," said Keith McCarty, 
chief executive of Eaze Solutions, a technology firm that helps 
medical marijuana patients gain access to pot.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom