California has allowed for the compassionate use of marijuana since 1996. And while the state has become known for it's medical pot tolerance, the industry has gone unchecked since it's inception. Despite some cities and municipalities banning marijuana collectives, the system seems to work well for everyone involved.
Except, of course, the government. But a California lawmaker wants to change that, and has introduced a bill that would establish state oversight on the industry while butting into the business of doctors and their patients.
California state Sen. Lou Correa's Senate Bill 1262 - co-written by the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities - would require the state health department to license dispensaries and grows. The businesses would have to get local zoning and business approval as well.
The bill would also effect patients, requiring them to now get recommendations from their primary care doctor or from a specialist to whom the patient has been referred. Doctors would have to give detailed instructions on what strain to use, how much to use at a time and how to consume the cannabis. Doctors that hand out more than 100 recommendations in a year would instantly be audited by the state Board of Health.
And the bill may have a chance of passing. Lawmakers have long wanted to control (and make money from) these shops. The feds have also said that they would leave cannabis businesses alone so long as they were following state laws. Lawmakers say that without any statewide laws to follow, the entire system remains a target.
It's not just lawmakers either. Pot lobbyists from the Drug Policy Alliance and Americans for Safe Access have been trying to get regulatory legislation passed since last year. They say that Correa's new bill is going too far, but that they are willing to compromise instead of lobbying to defeat it. They would like to align it more with a bill proposed last year by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano that would have taxed and regulated recreational sales of cannabis.s