Strange bedfellows in the world of medical marijuana now that the dispensary business might start to unravel in Southern California.
Some pro-medical marijuana folks actually want the state to regulate the industry better: It might save dispensaries from cities that want to ban them outright. So they're working on putting the Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act before voters. It would create statewide pot shop police. Really.
Even stranger? The guy who's known as "the father of medical marijuana" is against it:
That's right, Dennis Peron, the activist who co-authored the 1996 ballot initiative that gave you sick people the right to legally buy-and-toke, isn't feeling this latest legislation.
The Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would require signatures from five percent of the California electorate to get on the ballot. It's backed by Americans for Safe Access and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5.
Among other things, it would create a 21-member Bureau of Medical Marijuana Enforcement to license and police pot shops. It would provide enforcement guidelines. It would create a framework for taxing dispensaries. And it would allow cities and counties to enact and enforce pot shop zones.
A recent court decision says Long Beach (and, by extension other cities such as Los Angeles) can't regulate pot shops via permits and lottery systems because they're essentially illegal on a federal level.
Would this initiative be a savior? Not sure.
But that decision, Pack v. City of Long Beach [PDF], has inspired the city of L.A. to go forward with a ban that would put all of our 500 or so dispensaries out of business. Even though it's being appealed, L.A. is moving along with its outright ban of pot shops.
Anyway, Peron thinks the Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act is a little scary in its zeal to oversee the business.
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In a statement sent to us over the weekend from "Dennis Peron & Friends," they write:
We have read the proposed initiative and feel it is far too vague on all the details. What specific regulations are they proposing? Who can operate and who cannot operate under their program? If their proposed control board chooses to shut you down what are your options for appealing that decision? ... We note that a powerful state union (UFCW Local 5) is cosponsoring the initiative and if it passes is ensured a seat on the Medical Marijuana Control Board with absolute power over every entity engaged in any level whatsoever of marijuana commerce in California. Does this mean that they can force every one of those entities to join their union and pay them dues? ... This is worse than a blank check, this is blind trust!
... Lastly, this initiative creates a mandatory state registry of everyone involved in medical marijuana commerce in California. That is stupid. The federal government will use that information against those it chooses to prosecute for selling pot. ... If you don't want to live under this law, you better get active today!
See more at Peron's website.