Poll: Should the State Regulate Local Pot Dispensaries?

AB 2312 attempts to take the ultimate control of marijuana clubs from cities, and give it to the state.


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.

wolfone June 02, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Yes! Cities are doing the NIMBY thing and patients have to go to SF to get their medicine. So. City could be getting all the taxes from a dispensary and help make our city better. Not having a dispensary here is a hardship on Patients who don't have Cars to go down to SF or don't want to go to the dispensaries in "The City" for whatever reason. The people have spoken and this is the Law. City Council better get with the program or be voted out. I know a few City council member I won't be voting for next time. Ones who want to tear down a perfectly good space in Westbourogh to build a dumb mall and don't want MMJ dispensaries here. Get with the times its 2012!!! Everyday there are new articles about MMJ and how many diseases & conditions benefit from its use! People who say peeps just want to "Get high" legally are woefully misinformed. There are components in indica strain that is commonly used for pain relief that block the THC! There fore you have pain relief but no "high" which everyone is "concerned" about...while they enjoy that Martini... Its time for the State to take over and some of these cash strapped cities will be helped, MMJ patients helped.
Mona Taplin June 02, 2012 at 02:37 PM
If a dispensary is non profit,- like most claim to be,- the city would gain nothing in taxes and additional headaches in enforcement of "medical" marijuana. YES I do believe that there are people out there with chronic illnesses who would benefit by the use of marijuana, but the way it is now anyone can trump up a reason for using it. There are less than honorable Dr's out there who willingly give use cards to anyone with a fee. I vote NO.
Steve Sinai June 02, 2012 at 06:22 PM
The state should do what Connecticut recently did, and legalize medical marijuana as long as it's only distributed by a licensed pharmacist. There's nothing seriously medicinal about medicine that's labeled "Banana Buzz," "Half-Baked" or "Love Lettuce." As of now, the medical marijuana business does primarily serve those who just want to "Get high" legally.
sister madly June 02, 2012 at 07:20 PM
not true. non profits still have to collect sales tax. there are always less than honorable doctors willing to dole out pharma toxins at a patient's request, too. here is a link to just some of the illnesses cannabis is scientifically verifiably beneficial for: http://norml.org/library/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana
sister madly June 02, 2012 at 07:29 PM
while i agree that the medical cannabis community shoots its self in the foot by not acting and speaking in a more clinical way - treating cannabis more medicinally i suppose, but pharmacists don't know anything about it; i'd like to see some special licensing for special cannabis consultant (which i don't think needs tons of western medical training); i also think the pharma industry is poised to swoop in on the medical market in part because the current medical market perpetuates cheech and chong stereotyping...on the other hand, i also have no problem with people wanting to get high for the sake of getting high.
sister madly June 02, 2012 at 07:30 PM
love ya tommy! keep up the good work!
Lou Covey, The Local Motive June 02, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Unfortunately, until the Federal government changes it's policies, it doesn't matter what the states do. it would make more sense to pass legislation that regulates and taxes the business with the proviso that it takes affect as soon as federal law allows it. At least then we'd be ready.
Frank Mockery June 02, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Leave cannabis dispensaries & those patients abiding by state law alone,the voters have spoken. If the Feds want to enforce their laws so be it,but local governments & law enforcement should cease to assist them. After all these people took an oath to uphold our state laws not just those of which they approve. Without the encouragement of local politicians,assistance of local law enforcement & the majority of Californians disapproving the Feds will retreat. Anyone who wants marijuana need go no further than their neighborhood bar. Order a beer,wait a few minutes & follow your nose out front or around back ! Really,how naive are you obstructionists ?San Jose has over 100 dispensaries operating lawfully (under state law) with no demonstrable adverse effects on their city after they abandoned their efforts to shutter them in the face of overwhelming opposition. Cannabis dispensaries have proven to be good neighbors & revenue producers in the communities that have welcomed them. Citing federal law when seventeen states have joined us in ignoring & defying it is just a last ditch desperate attempt to continue obstruct our right to "safe & legal access" granted by California voters sixteen years ago. Read the Op-Ed "A Judge's Plea for Pot" written by N.Y. Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach in the May 16th N.Y. Times. He tells his story (& ours) eloquently with courage & great insight. Everyone,no matter what they think they know about this issue should read this moving story.
Frank Mockery June 02, 2012 at 11:26 PM
The fact is nothing in the statute says providers of medical marijuana have to do so on a non-profit basis. The wording says "nothing in this statute authorizes the sale for profit",but it doesn't say that it prohibits it either. One of the authors Former State Senator John Vasconcellos said this language was a compromise with those who opposed it being sold for profit. Vasconcellos says it was never the intent of the authors to completely bar sales for profit as no should expect anyone to furnish medication solely out of the goodness of their hearts. Pharmacies aren't required nor expected to give away medication so why should those who supply marijuana in accordance with state law be expected to do so ? We'll never convince everyone that marijuana is safer than tabacco & alcohol,that not a single death can be attributed to it's short or long term use. Fortunately we don't need their support as opinion polls show 75% of Americans support medical marijuana & over 50% now support legalization. In 2010 legal marijuana got more votes in California than Meg Whitman & Oregon & Colorado look to be the first states to vote to legalize this November. The prohibitionists have won several skirmishes,but there is little doubt who will ultimately prevail. Marijuana medicinal & recreational are gaining more support & momentum daily & time is certainly on our side. Educate,legislate,litigate & proliferate ! Lets stamp out the last pockets of resistance,but try to behave yourselves !!!!!!
Andrew Boone June 03, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Lou, it matters a lot what marijuana policies California and other states adopt. Tom Ammiano's proposed legislation would enable the state to regulate marijuana dispensaries, a power which it does not currently have. There are many areas of law where state policies and regulations are in conflict with federal policies and regulations - medical marijuana is only one of them.
Andrew Boone June 03, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has proven himself a good leader regarding medical marijuana policies, having introduced the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act in 2009, which would have "removed all penalties under California law for the cultivation, transportation, sale, purchase, possession, and use of marijuana, natural THC and paraphernalia by persons over the age of 21". Tom's current proposal, though falling far short of full legalization, would at least require consistent policies regarding medical marijuana sales throughout the state. It makes no sense that patients must travel to San Bruno, San Francisco, or San Jose to obtain a treatment prescribed to them. In addition, taxation of marijuana sales could make a major difference in helping balance local and state budgets.
Harry E. Smith June 03, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Medical marijuana is NOT the issue with Ammiano's proposed bill. ALL I see here is another POWER GRAB and TAX plan by the state at the EXPENSE of local government. The lamentations are loud when the Federal government IMPOSES its unfunded or unpopular programs upon the states, but now it's okay when the State does it to the cities???? Don't we have enough of this already with low income housing mandates by the State that sausage-stuff developments into areas that can't handle it without severely impacting the neighborhoods and city services, and yet STEAL the redevelopment funds set aside to try and get them built??? You can't have everything everywhere. If you live in San Bruno, Pacifica, Belmont or San Carlos and need to go to a hospital, you HAVE to go to another city even if it is not 'convenient'. Requiring cities to allow 'services' for the convenience of a few is ridiculous! What next, every town must have a hospital, college, Walmart?? Where does it end? Why is the South City council vilified for prohibiting pot clubs, when in truth they are an easy source of a publicly illegal substance to MANY non-legitimate users? We have already had several instances where our high school students were found with marijuana on campus--PURCHASED FROM POT CLUBS!!! Yes, regulate and oversee the dispensaries from the State level, but don't IMPOSE the troubles they bring on our local cities. I trust my city council MUCH more than the State legislature to KNOW what we need.
Brash Brazen June 04, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Remember if your city doesn't want cannabis dispensaries you can chose to take all your business elsewhere. If the elected leaders continue to obstruct patients rights it's your perogative to spend your money in a more enlightened community. Support for medical marijuana & recreational marijuana is now favored by a growing majority of Americans. Those whose bias puts them on the wrong side of this issue do so at their own political peril. Examples abound on the internet daily of staunch anti-drug candidates losing elections to more progressive candidates. Those voting for the upcoming referendum will remember which officials impeded the implementation of state law based on their personal prejudices & they will punish them for their treachery !! Those who violated their oath of office to uphold the laws of the state of California should be removed from office & prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. One conviction & these callous political hacks would certainly reverse course. When the Democrats have enough votes to pass legislation without a single Republican vote next year they can legalize marijuana & save the time & effort needed to put it on the ballot again. Now it looks like Detroit voters will beat Oregon & Colorado voters to be the first to legalize in a special election ordered by the Michigan Supreme Court in August ! In a city where half the streetlights are broken & they can't afford to repair them,arresting marijuana users is a waste of time & resources.
Julie Kline June 04, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Oh, please, what Connecticut did is put a de facto ban on MM. What Walgreen's is going to carry medical cannabis? Exactly none. Unless you need or use medical marijuana, you really don't know what you're talking about in terms of cannabis' efficacy in treating or helping a vast number of medical problems. The silly name of a particular strain does nothing to diminish its power to help a patient manage his symptoms.
Valda Mort June 04, 2012 at 09:33 PM
You are ignorant. All dispensaries collect tax. Also the exact same thing can be said about any doctor prescribed medication, unless you think people like Heath Ledger died from candy pills. Boy, you better get those pot smokers, they might actually be ENJOYING their medication!!!! We certainly can't have that! Because people like you might disapprove! By the way, who set you up as a medical doctor? Do you make house calls? I would love to make an appointment since you seem to know all about it. How much do you charge per hour to diagnose?
Loretta Brooks June 17, 2012 at 07:06 PM
They should be respected as any other bonafide business who offers service to the community. So they should be taxed, helping our local and state deficit problems. The federal government should stay out of it, completely.


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