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Thursday, May 17, 2012

How AB 2312 Impedes Safe, Affordable Access & Why SB 1182 Is A More Workable Law

In reaction to US Attorneys’ threats on the State of California to shut down all medical cannabis collectives, Assembly Member Tom Ammiano introduced Assembly Bill 2312, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Control Act.  The 6,500-word Act imposes a regulatory system that impacts all areas of the State that have not yet implemented a local medical cannabis ordinance.  Collectives in cities such as San Francisco and Oakland may be grandfathered. 

AB 2312 is an example of a bill that takes-away-your-freedom-in-order-to-protect-you.  Assembly Member Ammiano will have you believe that this law will appease federal authorities and end the attack on our State’s medical cannabis laws.  (It didn’t work for Colorado.)  Unfortunately,  AB 2312 creates a large bureaucracy of non-elected, non-voter-accountable, politically appointed individuals that will decide the fate of collectives across the State.  Collectives pending consideration must close, pay yet-to-be-determined fees and attend an unknown number of hearings prior to any potential approval. 

The proposed legislation broadly requires that every dispensary site, every garden, every cannabis kitchen, storage site, curing location, concentrate production, testing – you name it – if it comes in contact with medical cannabis, the patient must be approved by the newly created Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement as a “Mandatory registrant.”  The bill does not allow for any citizen oversight, is ripe for corruption and defeats any attempt to keep medical cannabis affordable.  Legal professionals point to provisions that prevent patients from obtaining a physician’s recommendation as unconstitutional.  The bill’s aggressive supporters do so with questionable intent.

Senate Bill 1182 introduced by State Senator Mark Leno simply proposes to adopt the currently non-binding ‘Attorney General Guidelines’ as law and protects patients from prosecution for “marijuana commerce” as long as all activities are compliant with the Guidelines.  Many collectives argue that they already comply with the current AG Guidelines: maintaining a not-for-profit, private, closed-loop organization made up only of legally qualified patients and caregivers.   

The digest for SB 1182  states:
This bill (1) provides that a cooperative, collective or other business entity that operates within the Attorney General's (AG) guidelines shall not be subject to prosecution for marijuana possession or commerce, as specified; and (2) provides that where such an entity operates within the AG's guidelines, the entity and its employees, officers and members shall not be subject to prosecution for marijuana commerce because the entity or its employees, officers, or members received compensation for actual expenses incurred in carrying out activities in compliance with the guidelines.

SB 1182 continues,  “Existing law directs the AG to develop and adopt appropriate guidelines to ensure the security and nondiversion of medical marijuana.”  Senator Leno’s workable proposal puts medical cannabis compliance in the hands of one Statewide elected official, our Attorney General, who is more easily accessible and approachable  than the all-appointed, 9-member Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement.  SB 1182 does not require lengthy, expensive State registration and approval.  Municipalities remain responsible for implementing local zoning ordinances, which require local input. 

Senator Leno states SB 1182 is a “focused solution,” which is true enough when compared to  the convoluted approach of AB 2312.  All medical cannabis patients and physicians will be impacted by these potential laws and are encouraged to learn more and act accordingly.  Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact PAN. 

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