Wednesday, April 25, 2012

California Medical Cannabis Bill Watch

California State Capitol

There are several bills recently introduced in the California legislature that mention cannabis or attempt to regulate medical marijuana outright.  The bill that was very troublesome fortunately has been amended to a point that it will not affect patients.  AB 2552, introduced by California Assembly member Norma Torres, in its original draft, was designed to make it so that anyone with any cannabinoids in their system would be subject to criminal penalties and loss of their driver’s license:

    This bill would make it a crime for a person who has any level of cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoid compound, as defined, in his or her blood or urine to drive a vehicle. This bill would establish a rebuttable presumption that a person had cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoid compound in his or her blood or urine at the time he or she drove a vehicle if the substance is present in his or her blood or urine at the time of a chemical test performed within three hours after driving. This bill would impose a state-mandated local program by expanding the definition of a crime.  

However, the two bills that all cannabis patient advocates need to review, watch and speak-out upon are AB 2312 introduced by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano and SB 1182 introduced by State Senator Mark Leno.  Patient Advocacy Network urged patient advocates around the State to weigh-in on these bills to get feedback.  What we learned was very valuable and paralleled some of our experiences. 

AB 2312 is said to be heavy-handed and over-reaching in its attempt to fully regulate collectives on a statewide level.  It is argued that this legislation could effectively regulate all collectives out of existence.  Tom Ammiano’s office states it sat with a broad coalition of patients, advocates and providers, which is not true.  PAN met with Ammiano’s staff that indicated they “did not want to hear from a bunch of patients that did not want to be regulated.”  This rhetoric does not come from the patient community; we WANT workable regulations. 

The Assembly Member’s office appears to have been cooped by the self-professed marijuana “labor” movement.  Their agenda was thrust upon Ammiano’s office by those involved with the voter initiative Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act that was not supported by patient advocates and failed as an initiative.  AB 2312 does not promise to be workable but cumbersome and favorable to a select few handpicked individuals.  Collectives would have to shut down statewide until an appointed board approves their registration.

Please read it.  Not one cultivator wants this law given the current federal climate!! Unfortunately, AB 2312 was not drafted to be proactive but was a pure reaction to threats from federal authorities.  Even advocates in Colorado have tried to express to our legislature that there is no State law that will keep the feds from taking action against medical marijuana patient collectives and cooperatives.  We must have a change in federal policy as addressed in PAN’s Position Paper.

Leno’s SB 1182 points back to the Attorney General Guidelines For The Security And Non-Diversion Of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use issued by the Attorney General in August 2008 and states patient collectives would follow these guidelines not as a matter of AG opinion but as a matter of law.  While not a perfect piece of legislation, Leno’s bill is much more workable and in line with what ethical collectives are doing already.  This legislation does not try to shut everyone down, as does AB 2312. 

SB 1182 was recently amended in the Senate Public Safety Committee.  AB 2312 has passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee and is headed for reading in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

Follow PAN @PAN4Compassion for news updates. 

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