California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano wants to standardize the network of legal marijuana dispensaries in the state.
Language from his proposed bill in the state legislature says "cities and counties would be forbidden to prohibit the operation of state-permitted medical marijuana businesses, but could establish reasonable zoning regulations on the location of facilities. Local governments would be required to allow at least one dispensary per county and one per 50,000 inhabitants. (The) requirement may be overridden by ballot initiative in cities or counties of more than 50,000, or by local governments in smaller jurisdictions provided they show that patients had adequate access by other means."
In other words, cities and counties can't 'Just Say No.' Zoning is allowed, but every county has to allow a dispensary, and every city over 50,000 people has to allow one. However, if a ballot measure in those cities or counties overrides the proposed law, or if the local government can show there is other means of adequate access, it's back to the drawing board for medical marijuana patients.
AB 2312 would create a self-sustaining California Bureau of Medical Marijuana Enforcement (BMME), paid for by a 2.5% tax on the sale of medical pot.
The bill goes on to say:
- Anyone in the business of cultivating, distributing, selling, processing, manufacturing, transporting, etc. medical marijuana for use by others would be required to apply for registration with the Bureau after July 1, 2013.
- Collectives that are now legally recognized under local regulations in cities such as San Francisco, Sacramento, etc., would be automatically granted registration for three years.
- Patients and primary caregivers growing at home for personal use only would be exempt from registration.
According to publicCEO.com, it would also prohibit local authorities from appropriating any funds to enforce federal marijuana prohibitions that contradict California’s Proposition 215.
Ammiano cites a November 2011 poll of 800 California voters by EMCresearch.com, finding "more than 3 in 4 (77%) of likely 2012 voters support establishing uniform state rules for regulating, controlling and taxing medical marijuana; and 69% support creating a state enforcement division to regulate and control all entities involved in the commercial cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of medical marijuana in California and requires their mandatory registration with the state."
In San Mateo County, many city councils have banned marijuana dispensaries before they ever got off the ground.
But thcfinder.com lists three dispensaries in the county: the Coastside Health Collective in Pacifica, 650 Co Op Delivery Service in San Bruno, and Family Tree Delivery in Burlingame. When we called each dispensary, Coastside answered the phone and indicated they were open for business; Family Tree Delivery refused to answer any questions, stating "We're not sharing any information." 650 Co Op did not answer the call.
What do you think? Should the state step in and regulate marijuana dispensaries? Are the decisions of city councils too arbitrary? Should Prop 215 force the hand of cities, and allow dispensaries to exist? Or are we heading down a dangerous road by allowing the state to get involved here, and creating yet another level of bureaucratic layer for government?
Tell us in your comments, then vote in the poll below.