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California Assembly To Consider Bill To Regulate Medical Marijuana

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CA Assembly To Consider Bill To Regulate Medical Marijuana
CA Assembly To Consider Bill To Regulate Medical Marijuana
CA Assembly To Consider Bill To Regulate Medical Marijuana GUESTS: Alex Kreit, law professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law San Diego Eugene Davidovich, co-founder, Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access

THIS IS KPBS MIDDAY EDITION. I'M MAUREEN CAVANAUGH. IT'S BEEN NEARLY 20 YEARS SINCE VOTERS MADE MEDICAL MARIJUANA USE LEGAL IN CALIFORNIA BUT JUST THIS WEEK THE STATE ASSEMBLY WILL CONSIDER A BILL TO CREATE A BUREAU OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA REGULATION. THE NEW AGENCY WOULD LICENSE AND REGULATE DISPENSARIES AND REGULATE THE LEGAL CULTIVATION OF MARIJUANA. THE SUDDEN INTEREST IN MEDICAL MARIJUANA REGULATION MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE EXPECTED CALIFORNIA INITIATIVE NEXT YEAR TO LEGALIZE RECREATIONAL USE OF POT. IT'S NOT CLEAR YET HOW A STATE REGULATION BUREAU WOULD INTERACT WITH THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO'S NEW MEDICAL MARIJUANA PERMITTING PROCESS. TURNING ME ARE ALEX CRAIG LEWIS A PROFESSOR AT THE THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL OF LAW, AND FORMER MEMBER OF THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO MEDICAL MARIJUANA TASK FORCE ALEX OCCAM BACK RATE TO BE HERE. AND JEAN IS WITH THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROUP RESPONSIBLE MEDICINAL ACCESS. EUGENE WELCOME. THANK YOU. SPEC FIRST WE WILL HEAR FROM ASSEMBLYMAN RON PENTA HE IS AUTHOR OF ASSEMBLY TO 66 AND HERE'S WHAT HE TOLD THE DID ADDITION PRODUCER EARLIER TODAY ABOUT WHAT THAT BILL WOULD DO. IT CREATES A SINGLE OVERSIGHT AGENCY WHICH WILL HAVE A CORD NATION AND OVERSIGHT ROLE OVER OTHER DEPARTMENTS THAT HELP WITH LICENSING IN DIFFERENT AREAS OF THEIR EXPERTISE. THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE BE LICENSING FOR THE CULTIVATION SIDE CUT THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH BE LICENSING FOR THE MANUFACTURING TESTING SIDE IN THE CALIFORNIA BOARD OF EQUALIZATION WHAT DO LICENSING FOR THE DISPENSARIES WHOLESALERS AND DELIVERY. WE THINK THAT THROUGH THIS REGULATORY APPROACH, ONE DRAWS ON EXPERTISE OF EXISTING DEPARTMENTS WHILE ALSO CREATING A UNIFIED APPROACH TO THE COORDINATING ROLE OF THE GOV.'S OFFICE OF MARIJUANA REGULATION WILL HAVE A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE REGULATORY REGIME IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA THAT HONORS CONTROL AND ALSO PROVIDES A FLOOR FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY. LOCAL CITIES AND COUNTIES WILL STILL HAVE THE ABILITY TO GO SO FAR AS TO BE AN ANIME MEDICAL CANNABIS ACTIVITY IF THEY WISH, BUT IF THEY SIDE TOO OFTEN, THEY WILL NEED TO COMPLY WITH REQUIREMENTS SET FORTH TO ENSURE HEALTH AND SAFETY. THAT WAS ASSEMBLY MENDER RON PONTO HE IS CO-AUTHOR OF ASSEMBLY BILL 266. LET ME ASK YOU ALEX CALIFORNIA VOTERS APPROVED A MEDICINAL USE OF MARIJUANA IN PROP TO 15. THAT WAS IN 1996. WHAT HAS KEPT THE CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE FROM TAKING ACTION? I DON'T KNOW. I THINK IT'S BEEN A LITTLE BIT OF A MYSTERY AND KIND OF FRUSTRATING BECAUSE CALIFORNIA WAS A LEADER ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA PASSING THE FIRST BALLOT MEASURE. NOW WE HAVE REALLY FALLEN BEHIND BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE STATEWIDE REGULATION FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA BUSINESSES. THAT'S A HUGE PROBLEM BECAUSE IT PUTS LOCALITIES LIKE SAN DIEGO AT TOUGH SPOT THERE A LOT OF ASPECTS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA THAT LOCALITIES SHOULD BE REGULATING. IT SHOULD BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE STATE. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND HEALTH AND SAFETY TESTING AND ALL THAT KIND OF STUFF SHOULD BE THE STATES RESPONSIBILITY. MOST OTHER PLACES IT IS. CALIFORNIA IS FALLING BEHIND, AND I THINK IT'S VERY GOOD TO SEE THIS BILL MOVING ALONG AND THE PROSPECT OF GETTING A STATEWIDE REGULATION. EUGENE WHAT DO YOU THINK CAUSED THIS 20 YEAR DeLAY? I THINK IT'S A COMBINATION OF PROHIBITIONIST MENTALITY ABOUT THE LACK OF SUPPORT FOR CANNABIS IN GENERAL. AT THINK I THINK THE DOCUMENTARY THAT WE SAW OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS THE INEVITABLE IT ADOPTION OF SOME SORT OF RECREATIONAL USE OF CANNABIS AND ESTATE HAS FINALLY DECIDED THAT WE NEED REGULATIONS THAT WOULD PROVIDE CLARITY FOR CITIES AND COUNTIES. WHAT KIND OF CLARIFICATION DO WE STILL NEED? WE HAVE JUST SEEN THE FIRST LEGAL MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY OPEN UP IN THE CITY OF SAN DIEGO. THIS BILL APPARENTLY STILL LEAVES NOTING ALSO TO JURISDICTION SO WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT THIS BILL COULD DO FOR SAN DIEGO? I THINK IT'S GOING TO MAKE IT A LOT EASIER FOR CITIES AND COUNTIES ACROSS THE STATE. IT REALLY IS ONE OF THOSE SITUATIONS WHERE THIS SAID, THERE'S A LOT OF REGULATION HERE THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AT THE STATE LEVEL. EACH OF UNIFORMITY FOR LABELING AND PACKAGING IF YOU WANT TO HAVE SOME TO GROW MARIJUANA ONCE THAT HE AND SELL IT IN ANOTHER CITY. ALL OF THE SORTS OF THINGS YOU NEED TO MAKE BUSINESS RUN WELL. AND THEN THE PROTECTIONS THAT YOU ONE IN PLACE FOR PATIENTS. THE CITY'S JUST UNEQUIPPED TO DO THE KIND OF HEALTH AND REGULATORY OVERSIGHT THAT I THINK YOU WANT TO HAVE FOR MEDICINE. CITIES ARE VERY WELL-POSITIONED TO DO ZONING AND THAT SORT OF THING. THAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IT DOES IS IT RECOGNIZES LEAVING ALL OF THE REGULATORY DETAILS TO LOCALITIES WHICH IS WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING. WITH IT'S NOT WORKING WELL. IT CREATES A LOT OF AND CERTAINTY FOR THE PATIENTS AND PROVIDERS. ALEX BRINGS UP A POINT ABOUT ONE OF THE ONGOING PROBLEMS FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES IS ESTABLISHING RELIABLE SUPPLY CHAINS FROM GROWERS TO DISPENSARIES. CAN YOU TELL US HOW THAT WORKS? IT'S A GRAY AREA AND THAT IS A HUGE CHALLENGE. ANY PATIENT THAT HAS A RECOMMENDATION FROM THEIR PHYSICIAN TO USE MEDICAL CANNABIS CAN DO SO. WHAT WE DON'T HAVE IS COMMERCIAL CULTIVATION LICENSED IN SAN DIEGO. WE DON'T HAVE A MEANS FOR FOLKS TO JUST FOCUS ON PROVIDING THE BEST POSSIBLE QUALITY MEDICINE FOR THE PATIENTS AND DO THAT EXCLUSIVELY IN AN APPROPRIATE SENT. RIGHT NOW WE RELY ON PATIENT SUFFERING FROM THOSE CONDITIONS THEMSELVES TO HAVE TO LEARN AND BECOME EXPERTS IN CULTIVATION AND TO TRY TO FIND A COLLECTIVE TO CONTRIBUTE THAT TOO. IN THIS AREA, YOU SEE STATE REGULATION HELPING THE PROCESS. ABSOLUTELY. IT'S WHAT PATIENTS HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR. UNIQUE CLARITY FOR CULTIVATION, MANUFACTURING, DISTRIBUTION AND TRANSPORTATION. THAT IS WHY BILLS LIKE THIS EXIST. DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS? ABSOLUTELY. YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FINAL LIKE WHICH YET AND THE DeVIL IS ALWAYS IN THE DETAILS. ONE OF THE CONCERNS IS THE LOCAL CONTROL. LOCAL CONTROL OF ZONING IS GOOD. BUT A COMPLETE PROHIBITION PUTS PATIENTS AT RISK. ENFORCES THOSE THAT ARE MOST IMPACTED BY THE SERIOUS HEALTH CONDITIONS TO HAVE TO DRIVE LONG DISTANCES TO HAVE TO FIGURE OUT A PLACE WHERE THEY CAN GET THEIR MEDICINE LEGALLY. THIS IS A PROBLEM. NOW ALEX PART OF THIS BILL SEEMS TO BE THAT IT WOULD ALLOW COUNTIES TO IMPOSE A TAX ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA..MUNICIPALITIES AND COUNTIES HAVE IT RIGHT ALREADY? YES. CERTAINLY THERE ARE LOCALITIES THAT HAVE IMPOSED A SPECIFIC TAX. I THINK THAT THIS PROBABLY MAKES CLEAR THAT THIS RIGHT EXIST. WE HAVEN'T SEEN WHAT THE EXACT FINAL LANGUAGES LANGUAGE IS, BUT I THINK THAT LETTING LOCALITIES KNOW THAT THEY CAN TAX IT, IT WILL PROVIDE ASSURANCE. WITH MARIJUANA STILL BEING ILLEGAL UNDER THE EYES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, DOES THIS DO ANYTHING TO CLEAR UP THE CONTRADICTORY PATCHWORK OF LAWS SURROUNDING MEDICAL MARIJUANA? I THINK IT WILL IN THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROSECUTORIAL GUIDELINES WHICH SAYS IT'S ILLEGAL FEDERALLY, WE GENERALLY ADVISE PROSECUTORS NOT INTERFERE WITH STATE MARIJUANA LAWS IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. WHERE THE KEY FACTORS IS WHETHER THERE IS CLARITY AND GOOD REGULATION AND THE STATE LAW. CALIFORNIA HASN'T HAD THAT. I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S LED TO A LOT MORE INTERFERENCE IN FEDERAL PROSECUTION THAN WE HAVE SEEN IN OTHER STATES. COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WE SAW BIG CRACKDOWN THAT ONLY HERE BUT ACROSS THE STATE OR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. WE HAVEN'T SEEN THAT FOR A WHILE. I THINK THAT SEEING THEM BEING LESS INVOLVED, BUT TO HAVE THAT CLARITY IN THE STATE LAW IS GOING TO HAVE A GOOD EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROSECUTORS DECISIONS AND HOPEFULLY SHOULD BE ANOTHER THING ON THE SCALE FOR FEDERAL PROSECUTORS TO LOOK AT. THE REALITY IS LESS UNLESS LAW CHANGES, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE THIS CONFLICT AS KPBS REPORTED, DETAILS IN SAN DIEGO'S PROCESS IS CAUSING OUT CERTAIN AMOUNT OF FRUSTRATION AMONG CITY STAFF AND CITIZENS, WHAT IS CAUSING THE FRUSTRATION AND CAN ANY OF THAT BE STREAMLINED? THEY CAN DEFTLY BE STREAMLINED. LAST WEEK THE PLANNING COMMISSION IN SAN DIEGO HEARD A NUMBER OF THESE APPLICATIONS AND THE COMMISSIONERS WERE ASKING FOR CLARITY ON THIS ORDINANCE. THEY MADE COMMENTS SUCH AS THIS ORDINANCE IS NOT IMPLEMENTABLE. THERE'S SO MANY FLAWS AND WE NEED CITY COUNCIL TO CLEAN IT UP. THERE ARE CERTAIN ISSUES SPECIFICALLY WITH MAN-MADE AND NATURAL BARRIERS. IF YOU HAVE A FREEWAY BETWEEN YOU AND A PARK THAT IS AN EVEN BEING USED AS A PARK BUT IS DESIGNATED AS A PARK BUT A SWAMP LAND RIGHT NOW THOSE APPLICATIONS ARE BEING DENIED. THAT'S AN EXEMPT BOWL EXAMPLE WHERE ONE DISTRICT AFTER TWO PARKING SPOTS FIRST THOUSAND SQUARE-FOOT FACILITY ANOTHER REMOTE AFTER 10. THERE A LOT OF FLAWS WITH THE PROCESS THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED. CITY COUNCIL SHOULD TAKE THAT UP AND THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE A NEED FOR. YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE CITY PROCESS OF TRYING TO COME UP WITH MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAWS AND REGULATIONS. HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT THE CITY IS GOING TO OPEN THIS UP AGAIN? I THINK THAT CITY COUNCIL WILL START TO LOOK AT THIS. IT WAS A LONG TIME TO GET WE HAVE IN PLACE, AND CERTAINLY I CAN APPRECIATE THAT CITY COUNCIL MIGHT HAVE SOME HESITANCY TO OPEN UP A CAN OF FORMS. AS THE STARTS GETTING IMPLEMENTED I THINK THAT THEY WILL REALIZE THAT REVISITING SOME OF THE DETAILS ISN'T GOING TO OPEN UP A WHOLE BALL OF WAX. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE TO REVISIT THE ENTIRE ARGUMENT. I SUSPECT THAT ONCE WE HAVE A LITTLE BIT MORE TIME WITH THIS ORDINANCE IN PLACE, THE CITY COUNCIL WILL FEEL LIKE THEY ARE ABLE TO COME BACK AND FIX THOSE DETAILS. I DO THINK THAT HAVING SOME STATEWIDE REGULATION IN PLACE WILL HELP SPUR THAT ALONG BECAUSE THE CITY COUNCIL WILL HAVE MORE CERTAINTY ABOUT WHAT THE STATE IS GOING TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR AND I THINK THAT WILL BE ANOTHER THING WHERE THEY MIGHT WANT TO LOOK AT AN OR NOTES AND SAY OKAY NOW THAT WE HAVE SOME RULES, HOW SHOULD WE ADDRESS OUR ORDINANCE? THERE WAS SOME SPECULATION THAT COMPETING MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES ARE ACTUALLY FILING ENVIRONMENTAL OBJECTIONS TO SLOW DOWN THE PERMITTING PROCESS FOR THEIR COMPETITORS. SOME PEOPLE SAY NO THAT'S NOT HAPPENING IT'S THE PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST REALLY OPPOSED TO ANY KIND OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY IN SAN DIEGO. WHAT IS IT? IS THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENING? IT IS. IS A COMBINATION OF BOTH. WHEN CITY COUNCIL PASSED THIS, IT MADE A VERY COMPETITIVE PROCESS. THERE'S A LIMITED NUMBER OF PROPERTIES IN THE CITY AVAILABLE THAT FIT ALL THE CRITERIA AND THAT CREATED FIERCE COMPETITION. IF A B2 66 IS APPROVED, WHAT EFFECT IF ANY WOULD HAVING OF YOUR OF MARIJUANA REGULATION MIGHT HAVE ON THE EXPECTED VOTE NEXT YEAR ON WHETHER TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA FOR RECREATIONAL USE? I THINK THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT REASONS TO GET REGULATION IN PLACE AT THE STATE LEVEL FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA. WE'VE SEEN THE PROCESS PLAY OUT IN COLORADO WASHINGTON STATE FOR RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA, AND COLORADO HAD REALLY GOOD STATEWIDE REGULATIONS FOR MEDICAL IN PLACE BEFORE THEY PASSED IMMIGRATION LEGALIZATION. IT WAS MUCH SMOOTHER FOR COLORADO TO IMPLEMENT THEIR LAW. THE SAME WILL BE TRUE HERE IN CALIFORNIA. IF WE DON'T GET REGULATIONS IN PLACE FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA, AND LEGALIZATION PASSES IN 2016 WHICH LOOKING AT THE POLL NUMBERS IT SEEMS VERY LIKELY THAT IT WILL, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A MUCH MESSIER PROCESS TRYING TO RECONCILE THE TWO SYSTEMS. I THINK NOT ONLY FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA PATIENTS AND BUSINESSES, IT'S IMPORTANT TO GET SOMETHING IN PLACE SOON THAT FOR THE FUTURE AS WELL. WE ARE GOING TO BE THANKFUL TO HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN PLACE. I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH FOR COMING IN SPEAKING WITH US. ALEX KREIT WITH JEFFERSON SCHOOL OF LAW AND GENIA WITTE VEG FOR THE RELIANCE FOR RESPONSIBLE MEDICINAL ACCESS THANK YOU BOTH. THANK YOU.

It's been nearly 20 years since voters made medical marijuana use legal in California with the passage of Proposition 215, and now the state is considering creating an oversight agency to regulate it.

The state Assembly is expected this week to consider a bill to create the Governor's Office of Medical Marijuana Regulation. It would work with other state departments to license and regulate dispensaries and oversee everything from cultivation to manufacturing and testing of medical marijuana.

Assembly Bill 266 is authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland.

"Since the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, we've had very little additional regulation to protect the health of patients, their safety, to protect the environment, to protect public safety, and it’s about time that we do that," Bonta said.

The legislation, a merger of two bills introduced in the Assembly this year to regulate medical marijuana, would leave land use and zoning issues to local municipalities and allow them to ban dispensaries if they wish.

Alex Kreit, a law professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former member of the city of San Diego's Medical Marijuana Task Force Committee, said California has needed consistent regulations statewide for a long time.

“California was a leader in medical marijuana, and now we’ve really fallen behind because we don’t have statewide regulations,” Kreit told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday. “Cities really just aren’t equipped to do the kind of health and regulatory oversight for medicine.”

Eugene Davidovich, who leads the medical marijuana advocacy group Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access, said he supports of statewide regulations but has yet to see the final bill.

“We need statewide regulations that would provide clarity for the community,” Davidovich said. “Clarity is what patients have been asking for since 1996. We haven’t seen the final bill yet and the devil is always in the details.”

AB266 could come up for a vote on the Assembly on Wednesday.