Thursday, March 21, 2013

New California Marijuana Bill Attempts to Regulate Medical Pot

A new bill has recently been introduced in California that would impose state control over their medical marijuana industry, which has been unregulated since 1996. Assembly Bill 473 was introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and it would create a new agency inside of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control that would help to regulate medical marijuana. This new department, known as the Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation and Enforcement, would be responsible for regulating the growth, supply, and sale of medical marijuana throughout the State of California.

At the present moment hundreds of thousands of legal medical marijuana patients depend largely on the rules and regulations of each city and county in California. This creates confusion since what is tolerated in San Diego is not necessarily tolerated in Los Angeles, etc. There are currently more than 50 local ordinances and a variety of laws throughout those ordinances. State regulation would bring continuity to the medical marijuana business and prevent confusion for law enforcement officials and patients who require specific strains of medical marijuana. It would also set up a structure for statewide licensing fees.

“California has been in chaos for way too long. Cities have been looking for state guidance, dispensaries feel at the mercy of changing rules and patients who need medical cannabis are uncertain about how their legitimate medical needs will be filled.
                                                Tom Ammiano, California Assemblyman

Ammiano is no stranger to the medical marijuana issues that California faces. He proposed a similar bill last year that passed in the House but eventually stalled in the Senate. His last bill, Assembly Bill 2312 had full support from medical marijuana patients, dispensaries, and advocates.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Washington Picks its First Pot Consultant

The State of Washington has tentatively chosen their new marijuana consultant. Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at UCLA and the head of Botec Analysis Corp. Botec has evaluated government programs in the past, relating to drug abuse, crime, and public health and provided in-depth analysis and consulting for these programs. Now, Kleiman and Botec will be responsible for advising Washington state officials as they attempt to develop rules for new legal marijuana laws.

Washington and Colorado made headlines last year when they became the first states in the nation to pass laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. They are now in the process of setting up rules and systems for state-licenses growers, processors, and retail stores. This also includes developing rules for marijuana taxing. According to the Associated Press, sales of marijuana are expected to begin at the end of 2013 at the earliest.

Washington State's Liquor Control Board is currently trying to determine how many growers and stores they should allow, how much pot should be produced, types of packaging, and the appropriate testing of THC content. Even while Washington gears up for its own pot industry, marijuana remains illegal under federal law and many wonder if the government will attempt to block the licensing schemes from taking effect.

‘‘Hopefully the feds will cooperate so Washington won’t be sending money down the drain,’’ 
                                      --Khurshid Khoja regarding the new pot laws

Some of Botec's responsibilities will be to cover quality testing to determine the appropriate levels of THC, statistical analysis of how much marijuana to produce, and development of regulations. He faces a daunting task, since marijuana has never been regulated or legal before in this country. If Washington State produces too much marijuana, then there is a risk of it being trafficked out of the state. Producing too little marijuana results in a dangerous spike in the black market.