September 24, 2008
CA -- California Attorney General Jerry Brown's new attempt to settle the nerves of medical marijuana dispensers and patients is a weak attempt to make proposition 215 stronger.
Attorney General Brown has introduced an eleven-page directive aimed at clearing up some issues between state and federal governments. He believes his new guidelines will minimize legal worries and ease patient worries.
In 1996 when proposition 215 was passed by an overwhelming vote, medical marijuana dispensaries started popping up like Trader Joes all over the state. People started getting prescriptions for their "back pain" and everyone was happy.
At the same time, federally, this was all very illegal.
Twelve years has gone by and dozens of dispensaries have been opened, been raided, and been reopened just to be raided again. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been made from the profits and millions have been spent on trying to fight the legislation.
Brown's eleven-page directive now gives police the ability to distinguish between criminals and legitimate marijuana sellers. It also protects patients from getting arrested unlawfully. Brown's plan also will change dispensaries into non-profit or cooperatives, to cut out big money operations that exploit the medical label and sell to just about anyone.
One other step Brown wants to take is to change the amount of pot on the market, making it so only a patient, caregiver or dispensary could grow the small amount of medical marijuana needed. Brown's plan has just cleaned up the legislation at the state level. It will not stop the DEA from raiding dispensaries or harassing patients.
The police should already be able to distinguish criminals from legitimate marijuana sellers. Don't the legitimate guys usually sell during the day at a place with a sign that says medical marijuana in neon green?
As for turning these dispensaries into non-profits, they probably only report a quarter of their earnings as it is so this will be no big hurdle for them to get around. I am sure there are millions of tax-free dollars going through legitimate dispensaries.
The amount of pot on the market will not change by only allowing patients or dispensaries to grow the plants. The law now says a patient is allowed to grow up to six plants and a dispensary is allowed to grow six plants per patient it serves. There is no way a dispensary knows how many patients it has from week to week or even day to day. If they have 65 regular patients they must 65 people that try and go to a different dispensary every week. Does that mean they have 130 patients and are allowed to grow 780 plants?
Making all these changes at the state level is continuing to get the medical marijuana laws nowhere. The changes need to be made federally and only then will the dispensers be able to run their business with out fear from the DEA.
Note: Medical marijuana laws must be changed federally to have any impact.