Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jan 2016
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Column: Legalization Nation
Copyright: 2016 East Bay Express
Author: David Downs


The Recent Rash of Medical Pot Bans Strikes the East Bay. Meanwhile, 
Full-Scale Legalization Gets Cleared for Signature-Gathering.

Alameda County medical cannabis patients, they're coming for you. 
California's rash of medical pot bans continues to spread in 2016 and 
has now reached into the historic heartland of medical cannabis law reform.

Patients in places like the East Bay's Castro Valley could face new 
threats for growing even one medical pot plant indoors if a new, 
fast-moving county effort succeeds. Alameda County's lawyers 
recommended on January 6 that the board of supervisors ban any 
medical cannabis cultivation or deliveries in unincorporated areas by 
January 24.

In a letter to the board, county counsel Donna Ziegler wrote that 
patients growing a single plant and collectives delivering to the 
neediest should be banned and fined "in order to protect the 
environment and preserve the public peace, health, [and] safety."

Observers note that Alameda County's lawyers appear to have copied 
and pasted their arguments directly documents created by the pro-ban 
group, the League of California Cities. The league is openly telling 
cities that bans are "quickest, cleanest" form of regulation.

The league continues to point to a March 1 state deadline as a reason 
for cities and counties to ban medical cannabis activity, or run the 
risk of ceding local control to California regulators. Lawmakers have 
said that they will lift the deadline, but about sixty localities 
have enacted bans nonetheless.

Meanwhile, many cities and counties are now quickly moving to 
regulate cultivation, distribution, and sales, rather than enacting 
prohibitions. In fact, conservative battleground areas like Placer 
County and the cities of Riverside and Sacramento are proving to be 
more progressive than Alameda County right now, choosing regulations 
over bans. Petaluma has also protected personal cultivation. And 
according to reports, a cultivation ban failed in the Monterey County 
city of Marina.

In an effort to counteract the league, patient group Americans for 
Safe Access has announced a "Local Access Project" that patients can 
use to protect themselves. ASA has an online kit that includes a memo 
for local lawmakers, a model ordinance for local cultivation, 
information on the new regulations, campaign plan and fundraising 
tips, training materials for citizen lobbyists, and research and reports.

California NORML is also distributing an open letter to county boards 
of supervisors informing them that the March 1 deadline is not really 
a deadline. Last week, East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta introduced 
clean-up legislation to delete the March 1 deadline, and calm cities down.

And Governor Jerry Brown's office said he'll sign Bonta's bill. The 
governor released a new budget that calls for $24.6 million to fund 
the new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulations in 2016 2017. Several 
agencies or committees have begun scheduling public meetings about 
regulations. On Tuesday, January 19, a Joint Hearing of the 
Assembly's Business and Professions, Agriculture, and Health 
Committees will discuss implementing regulations.

Legalization Update

California's leading marijuana legalization initiative received its 
official title and summary from the State of California and has 
reported $1.25 million in campaign financing. The Adult Use of 
Marijuana Act (AUMA) - from Dr. Donald O. Lyman, former chief of the 
Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Control at the California 
Department of Public Health, and Michael Sutton, former president of 
the California Fish and Wildlife Commission and former vice president 
of National Audubon Society - was cleared for signature gathering on 
January 6. The AUMA's title and summary calls it "Marijuana 
Legalization" and estimates it could generate up to $1 billion per 
year in state tax revenue, plus $100 million in court-cost savings.

The effort to pass AUMA will be funded by "Californians to Control, 
Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana while Protecting Children," 
which reported $1.25 million in donations - vastly out-funding any 
other legalization group in California. The $1.25 million includes 
$500,000 from Silicon Valley tech billionaire Sean Parker, plus funds 
from dispensary directory company WeedMaps and leading drug law 
reform groups Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Policy Project.

The California NAACP endorsed AUMA earlier this month, while the 
California Growers Association has decided to remain neutral. 
Oaksterdam chancellor Dale Sky Jones has begun to openly oppose AUMA. 
Jones chairs the Oakland-based group ReformCA. But the ReformCA board 
is split, with most members defecting to support AUMA, including 
Oaksterdam founder and Proposition 19 architect Rich Lee.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom