Pubdate: Thu, 04 Feb 2016
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2016 North Coast Journal
Author: Grant Scott-Goforth


A University of California San Francisco think tank released a study 
based on proposed marijuana legalization ballot measures that warns 
of a corporate takeover of the marijuana industry that could have 
negative public health effects.

The report, which comes from the university's Center for Tobacco 
Control Research and Education, says legalization - the most 
prominent effort for which is being funded by tech billionaire Sean 
Parker - is likely to lead to big money flowing into Sacramento to 
lobby for the newly legal industry.

That, in turn, the report says, could threaten public health efforts 
- - much like the strategies undertaken by Big Tobacco to ease 
regulations and sell more products. Calling corporate marijuana an 
already "potent lobbyist," the report's co-author told the Sacramento 
Bee that a marijuana ballot measure's "goal (should be) to legalize 
it so that nobody gets thrown in jail, but create a legal product 
that nobody wants."

Countering the report, a spokesperson for the Parker-backed ballot 
measure said the law being drafted contains public health 
protections, as well as anti-monopoly measures.

Two days after the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors passed a 
comprehensive outdoor medical marijuana cultivation ordinance - an 
effort of superbureaucratic speed - state lawmakers lifted the 
deadline that led to the county's mad rush.

Assemblyman Jim Wood announced on Jan. 28 that his emergency 
legislation, lifting a March 1 deadline for local jurisdictions to 
enact pot laws or cede all regulatory control to the state, has been 
approved by both the Senate and Assembly. All that remains is a 
signature from Gov. Jerry Brown and the legislate-by date will be removed.

"I am not advocating for or against a particular position on medical 
cannabis," Wood said in the release. "I am advocating for local 
elected officials to take the time to engage in a process that 
results good public policy, not knee jerk reactions."

The local ordinance's drafters always took the deadline seriously, 
even as it became more and more apparent the Legislature was making 
good on its promise to remove the time restriction. Throughout the 
process, which saw dozens of hours of planning commission and 
supervisors' meetings, and untold hours of staff time, the drafters 
lamented the short timeline, all but acknowledging that the ordinance 
could have been better with more time to work on it.

But the ordinance is not carved into stone - it goes into effect at 
the end of February, and supervisors can amend it as they see fit. 
Perhaps embracing the deadline was a boon - motivation for the county 
to finally address Humboldt's outdoor grow scene decades after 
Proposition 215 passed.

And Humboldt County's measure is far more comprehensive than outright 
bans that have been sweeping city and county jurisdictions, including 
Fortuna. The League of California Cities, apparently, was advocating 
that city governments pass bans as a means to hold on to local 
control, surmising that it would be easier to lift them than to 
impose stricter rules later. Those efforts were likely the target of 
Wood's "knee jerk" admonishments.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom