Well, when Paul Lucas is right, Paul Lucas is right! And what has Paul been right about most often?
Mainly, that each time State Senator Lou Correa (now contemplating a run for Santa Ana Mayor, you read it here first) authors and pushes a bill that purports to make progress toward a workable, regulated medical marijuana regime in California, it will INVARIABLY contain provisions that actually make things worse and more restrictive than they are now. Each year we see the same thing:
- 2011’s Brown-vetoed bill overriding local zoning control to require ALL dispensaries in California to be at least 600 feet from any residence;
- Last year’s SB 289, subjecting you to a DUI if you drive with any trace of THC in your blood – THC which, duh, stays there for 30 days without in any way impairing you – this blog helped defeat that;
- And then this year’s earlier version of SB 1262, masquerading as progress but containing a poison pill (now removed) limiting and punishing doctors who give MMJ recommendations.
And yet still MMJ advocates look expectantly to Lou’s ongoing legislation believing that one of these days something good will come of it, much like Charlie Brown was always convinced to kick Lucy’s football. Just last week I heard some (I thought) knowledgeable pot folks chatting about how much SB 1262 had improved, and how old Lou was really getting tired of law enforcement’s demands and was preparing to stick it to them and REALLY give us a workable regulatory system. Hmmm … Lucy… “Lou C” … have we hit on something here?
Cut to the chase. Of course. The NEW poison pill in Lou’s SB 1262 is buried on page 21, lines 33-35, but it’s a BIG one once you’ve found it. In fact, it’s more like a BLACK HOLE, sucking up all the goodness in the rest of the bill:
(6) (A) The bureau shall deny an application for a license if issuance of that license would tend to create a law enforcement problem, [or if issuance would result in or add to an undue concentration of licenses.]
Got that? Local law enforcement doesn’t even have to say HOW the dispensaries or collectives/cooperatives in their jurisdiction create a problem, they can just say “there’s a problem,” and BINGO, no more medical marijuana in that town. And how often do you see law enforcement who embrace that industry, that medicine? I mean, you might see some enlightened sheriffs on TV now and then but that’s because they’re as rare as scientists who deny global warming, who ALSO get on TV. [Not a perfect comparison as those scientists are paid-off liars, but still.]
And it only stands to reason: Any bill the cops-and-prison-guards-loving Lou is going to give us will be one backed by the large law enforcement lobbying groups (and the equally backward California League of Cities) … and those groups have steadfastly refused to acknowledge that cannabis has any legitimate medicinal qualities. So really what can we expect? To expect those groups to back a law that makes it easier for patients to get their medicine without folks getting raided, fined, and going to jail … would be like expecting the fox not to chow down on the flock of hens we put under his care in some crazy lapse of judgement.
Advocates calculate that this bill will actually leave 2/3 of California without medical marijuana, as not only local law enforcement but benighted city councils like Anaheim’s would be able to ban dispensaries at will.
This is a more urgent situation than I may be communicating, as the bill stands a very good chance of passing, that poison pill isn’t going to go anywhere [see update] and state law will trump any enlightened local ordinance. For example, if Santa Ana voters passed either of their competing initiatives this November, and got their dozen collective/co-operatives down in the industrial areas of the southeast and southwest because Santa Ana voters feel that’s reasonable, Police Chief Carlos Rojas could up and say “There’s a problem. A law enforcement problem.” And there’d be no appeal, everything closes down.
Even Nevada or Utah law enforcement can come over and say “hey, we’ve got a law enforcement problem with this pot coming from California,” and – closed down! By yahoos who couldn’t even make it all the way out west!
The bill’s authors are NOT taking into consideration the concerns of critical stakeholders such as California Cannabis Voice, which has been banned from key meetings in apparent revenge for their identifying the Law Enforcement Loophole; but they retain the illusion of cannabis-industry support by including the California Cannabis Industry Association, which is dominated by two HUGE dispensaries in Oakland and Los Angeles – businesses who know they will have no trouble with THEIR local law enforcement, and that the trouble businesses have in neighboring counties will give them a Hell-of-Sweet Monopoly in the area, as patients are forced to travel a hundred miles to THEM for their medicine.]
Update: This bracketed section may have been unfair to the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA), I am currently speaking with them…
UPDATE: The California Cannabis Industry Association denies that they are dominated by huge interests in Oakland and LA; the vast majority of their membership consists of small “mom-and-pop” collectives and dispensaries. They are working hard with the Correa team and other stakeholders to get good amendments in, and particularly removing this law-enforcement-veto poison pill (which wasn’t expected to stand up to some legal challenges anyway.) THEY say it’s way too early to give up on SB 1262, or Lou Correa for that matter. We wish them luck, and will keep a close eye on this bill, because as it stands right now it looks like a step backwards! Stay tuned for more updates…