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Before we give Senator Lou Correa his regularly-deserved shellacking, let’s take a few moments to grant him kudos for his fine transparency bill, popularly known as the “DISCLOSE Act,” which just passed out of the full Assembly. Let’s go ahead and print his press release, which I see no problems with:
ASSEMBLY APPROVES BILL TO CAST SUNSHINE ON CAMPAIGN MONEY
February 20, 2014
Sacramento, CA – Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), announced that, Senate Bill (SB) 27, legislation he introduced to close the loophole whereby campaign contributors can hide their true identity by laundering their money through nonprofit groups was approved by the state Assembly.
“I am pleased with the broad bipartisan support that SB 27 has received, which reinforces the notion that California voters want to know who is funding the campaigns for and against these important ballot measures. They rely on this information to help them decide how to vote. I will make sure the voters get the whole story no matter who these funders turn out to be,” said Correa.
The impetus for Senator Correa’s bill, SB 27, was Americans for Responsible Leadership, an Arizona non-profit corporation that made an anonymous $11 million donation to a California campaign committee involved with the Proposition 30 and Proposition 32 initiative campaigns. Americans for Responsible Leadership eventually admitted that it was an intermediary and identified the true source of the contribution as Americans for Job Security, through a second intermediary, The Center to Protect Patient Rights, both of which are also non-profits. An investigation into the matter by the Fair Political Practices Commission resulted in record fines.
“I have worked closely with the FPPC to fashion a bill that will close this loophole once and for all. Laundering campaign cash through nonprofits to hide your true identity will no longer be possible in California after my bill is enacted,” said Correa.
SB 27 was approved by the Assembly with 58 aye votes and now must be voted on by the Senate for concurrence.
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Okay, that out of the way, we started our morning today with a report from Nick Schou that Lou has authored a “pot bill.” First off, we think, has THAT ever been good? The answer is a resounding NOT, but the smart Nick seems open-minded. Next we read that this new bill, SB 1262, is backed by both law enforcement and the virulently anti-marijuana California League of Cities. And this is masquerading as a positive pro-reform bill. At this point we are sporting a serious “What’s the Catch?” face.
And here’s the catch. Buried within this bill’s constructive-sounding dispensary licensing scheme is the poison pill we were all expecting: Recommendations for medical marijuana can now only be given by doctors who “have a bona fide doctor-patient relationship, with medical marijuana recommendations to be made by a patient’s primary care physician or by a physician and surgeon to whom the patient is referred by their primary care physician.”
This would in effect cut off medical marijuana for the VAST majority of patients who need it and are currently (with any luck) getting it: Most primary care doctors are ignorant, indifferent, or hostile to medical marijuana, and for various good reasons are fearful of unpredictable, draconian Federal law. Orange County MMJ activist Paul Lucas points out that:
“This bill eliminates those doctors who are brave enough to recommend the use of cannabis to seriously ill patients. It legally puts them out of business by “Specific Exclusion,” and relegates that duty ONLY to people’s PRIMARY physicians. This is bad because those who are truly in need of cannabis for medical reasons are usually on Medicare or Medicaid due to severe disabilities and illness. And the doctors who treat these seriously ill patients accept federal funds from Medicare and Medicaid etc, to treat their patients, and are forbidden by federal law to recommend the use of cannabis.”
I would add that the vast majority of primary care physicians have a deep and symbiotic relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, motivating them to prescribe the usual synthetic medications rather than the natural herb. AND the bill furthermore requires AUDITS of any physician who recommends MMJ more than 100 times in one year.
NORML spokesman Dale Gierenger, with charming naivete, lauds the bill’s reasonable components and law enforcement’s supposed newfound reasonableness, and expresses hope that the anti-doctor strictures can be stripped out of the bill at some point. But, as Paul points out, these strictures are the essence, the heart of the bill. “SB 1262 is like a Hot Pocket, with some good-looking stuff on the outside, but a piece of dog shit at the core.”
Without the bill’s evisceration of patients’ ability to obtain their medicine, the ballyhooed support of law enforcement and the League of Cities would evaporate - the evisceration IS the whole point. And sure enough, the Police Chief Association’s letter of support begins: “Among the most troublesome issues with [the Compassionate Use Act] includes the ability of virtually anyone to obtain a medical marijuana recommendation from a compliant doctor…”
We see this once a year from Senator Correa – what he’ll present as a bill making things better for medical marijuana users on closer inspection would make things much worse … and then, thankfully it never passes. Lou’s bill seems to be a drug warrior’s alternative to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s far better MMJ regulation bill AB 604, which is pending hearings in the State Senate later this spring. When Lou comes around saying he’s got a great new pot bill, you should “beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” and also shun the Moose Turd Pie: