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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sacramento Drafts Statewide Medical Cannabis Guidelines

State Assembly Member Tom Ammiano has ‘introduced’ AB 473 and while the bill appears in the legislative counsel’s digest at, the only statement regarding the intent of the bill is to “provide a comprehensive state regulatory structure for medical cannabis cultivation, processing, testing, and distribution.” 

The full text of the bill is not yet published but the media reported extensively last week that Ammiano’s proposed regulatory body for collectives is the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC). 

Ammiano Suggests Marijuana Industry Be Policed By Alcohol Board [Updated]

Medical Marijuana Patients Wary of Booze Cops Regulating Pot

The idea has sparked a variety of criticism.  Statewide guidelines seem like a sane prospect for collectives operating in areas where local regulations are non-existent, until one considers the jeopardy of placing every cultivator, hash maker, baker, trimmer… under a ‘comprehensive structure’ while federal prohibition is still in full affect.  Ammiano has urged that his legislation is needed in order to appease federal authorities citing Colorado’s statewide regulations.  However, Colorado continues to suffer federal interference and local bans despite a statewide program.  

Law enforcement officials around California are not keen on an alcohol – medical cannabis legal fusion.  Many patient advocates aren’t either, fearing the exposure of patients intimately involved with cannabis production, and additional fees and taxes that will put ma & pop collectives out of operation.  Others debate whether this is a step toward an adult recreation model and if that is a good or bad thing when considering this bill is supposed to be about Prop. 215, and not-for-profit patient collectives.  Some see this proposal as Ammiano’s attempt to generate significant revenue to fund a large enforcement bureaucracy off the backs of patients.  How much is a gram of cannabis going to cost when the cultivator pays a fee to grow, trimmer has to be licensed, mandatory testing fees, the dispensary is paying additional State fees and taxes? 

State Senator Mark Leno has hinted that he is working on a proposal as well.  Last year his bill was based on the State Attorney General Guidelines leaving enforcement to the municipalities.  Leno claims to be a patient advocate and concerned about affordable access to medical cannabis.  We shall see what/if he presents in this 2013 session.

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