California chooses first state regulations for medical marijuana two decades after legalization. It was about time, as the shady market in cultivation and local rules have made it exceptionally easy to obtain the drug.
According to California Governor Jerry Brown, the three-fold regulation will start taking effect in 2018. Some say it has potential of becoming the framework for the eventual legalization of recreational marijuana in the sunny state. Cultivation of marijuana and its dispensing – with a license – will be overseen by a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation.
Brown’s signing statement on Friday explained the bills are nothing but an overdue regulation for the “production, transportation and sale of medical marijuana.” Presently, marijuana is frequently cultivated on hidden farms that steal irrigation from the state’s forests.
At the same time, the bills will also put agriculture and state tax officials in charge of developing a way to track the manufacturing and sale of marijuana products, which federal law still holds illegal.
Assemblyman Jim Wood, the author of one of the bills signed by Brown, said the reason why California lawmakers were so reluctant in developing regulation for medical cannabis is the U.S. government’s ban on pot, because it meant trying to resolve the conflict between federal and state law.
Wood added that having recreational marijuana legalized in Colorado, Oregon, Washington state, and Alaska over the past three years finally opened the gates to a more significant discussion around the issue.
Medical marijuana advocates have welcomed the package of laws, especially after the lack of strong state regulations led to too harsh measures in some cities that put undue pressure on local dispensaries.
According to Lauren Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the Marijuana Policy Project, organizations in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana for adults are also on board with the regulation and are now re-working their proposed California ballot initiatives in order to accommodate the new laws.
There are also opponents of recreational marijuana – and of the regulation – who argue that state laws would “codify a business that promotes potentially dangerous drug use.” Kevin Sabet, co-founder of the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said that the general population is reluctant to seeing marijuana stores in their neighborhoods and communities.
Sabet disagrees with the state’s current free-for-all medical marijuana environment, in which it’s so easy for recreational users often get a doctor’s prescription to smoke medical pot.
Image Source: NM Political Report