Pubdate: Fri, 25 Dec 2015
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Ukiah Daily Journal


A national medical marijuana advocacy organization published a memo 
and model ordinance on Monday for California cities and counties, 
recommending that they regulate the cultivation of medical marijuana 
instead of banning it.

The memo and model ordinance are part of a project by Americans for 
Safe Access to support patients and advocates fighting bans on 
cultivation and pushing for local licensing and regulation of medical 
marijuana businesses.

Mendocino County doesn't ban medical marijuana cultivation in its 
unincorporated areas, but currently has a 25 plant per parcel 
limitation under its local 9.31 ordinance. The Board of Supervisors' 
marijuana ad hoc committee is considering revisions in the new year, 
however, as the state's new medical marijuana regulatory package is 
set to roll out on Jan. 1, 2016.

"Medical cannabis advocates need tools and training to talk with 
their local lawmakers about medical marijuana," said ASA California 
Director Don Duncan. "This project is all about supporting and 
empowering those local advocates to make a difference in their hometown."

The ASA says its new local Access Project is a web portal with links 
to documents and online training that medical marijuana supporters 
can use to talk with their representatives on the city council or 
county board of supervisors.

While California voters led the nation in legalizing medical 
marijuana in 1996, the ASA said the state has lagged behind other 
medical marijuana states in adopting a statewide regulatory scheme. 
Accordingly, state cities and counties have adopted a patchwork of 
regulations and bans in the 19 years since voters approved 
Proposition 215. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a historic trio of bills 
known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act to license 
and regulate commercial medical marijuana at the state level on Oct. 9.

The new legislation creates the Bureau of Medical Marijuana 
Regulation in the Department of Consumer Affairs to oversee state 
licensing. The bill also charges state agencies with developing 
regulations for cultivation, testing and dispensing medical 
marijuana. Under the legislation, medical marijuana businesses must 
have both a state and local license to operate before Jan. 1, 2018. 
While cities and counties must approve medical marijuana businesses 
in most cases, the current version of the MMRSA allows the BMMR to 
license commercial cultivation without local approval in a city or 
county that does not authorize or ban commercial cultivation which 
was thought to have been required before March 1, 2016, but was 
misstated in the legislation.

"The deadline for local licensing of commercial medical cannabis in 
March has caused some cities to overreact," Duncan said. "In some 
cases, local governments are even banning marijuana cultivation by 
individual patients. That was never the intent of the law, and it is 
unlikely that provision will remain in state law."

California Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, one of the authors of 
the MMRSA, stated in an open letter to all state cities and counties 
last week that the March 1, 2016 deadline for adopting local 
ordinances was the result of "an inadvertent drafting error."

Wood said he acknowledged the error in the Assembly Journal, the 
official record of the state Assembly, and is in the process of 
striking the deadline when the legislature resumes after the first of the year.

"I believe that, given the choice, some cities and counties will opt 
to protect legal patient and the community at large by adopting a 
local licensing ordinance instead of a ban," Duncan said.

The ASA's memo recommends that cites and counties use existing 
business licensing ordinances to authorize commercial medical 
cannabis cultivation and to "specifically protect the right of legal 
patients to grow their own marijuana for personal use."

The MMRSA allows personal cultivation and exempts patients 
cultivating marijuana in 100 square feet or less from state licensing 
and regulation.

More information on the ASA's Local Access Project can be found at
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom