Marijuana laws in California are officially a clusterfuck. At the state level, we’ve got Prop 215 and SB 420 in play for guidance on all things medical marijuana, but many complain that the laws are too vague to facilitate a functional system. And then there’s just straight up state marijuana law. (Go ahead, knock yourself out with state Health and Safety Code about marijuana stuff.)
On top of that, since the passage of Prop 215 eons ago, all sorts of medical marijuana legislation has cropped up from city-to-city and county-to-county. Humboldt County governance is still developing it’s own medical marijuana regulations, as we know. I understand the proposed outdoor marijuana cultivation ordinance for smaller parcels will be revisited at the April 3rd Board of Supe’s meeting.
(California NORML maintains a fairly up-to-date web page with guidelines to the different cultivation guidelines across the state. The page does not include information on local governments’ dispensary regulations, which vary.)
Now legalization is officially kinda popular. California Democrats are backing legalization in their party platform. And check out this Huffington Post story: Many CPAC Attendees Say Marijuana Should Be Legalized. Why of course it should. The right to self-determination, we own our bodies… That’s right.
But it looks like California will remain stuck in the quagmire for now. The Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act — the single remaining hope for legalization via the 2014 ballot — seems like its campaign is going nowhere fast. The crew behind the initiative is apparently lacking the millions of dollars they need to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Meanwhile, California lawmakers are actively trying to further regulate — not legalize — marijuana at the state level. A brief rundown of what’s happening:
1. Assembly Bill 1588 would have increased the required distance between schools and medical marijuana dispensaries from 600 feet to 1,000 feet and it would have increased fines on any violators. The bill got shot down in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on March 11th.
2. Assembly Member Jim Frazier introduced Assembly Bill 2500 in late February. If passed, the bill would amend the state vehicle code so that:
“It is unlawful for a person to drive a vehicle if his or her blood contains any detectable amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol of marijuana or any other drug classified in Schedule I, II, III, or IV under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act…”
Any marijuana user knows that THC from a weed-injestion session stays in the ole system for a while, like days — 21 days is the stoner rule of thumb as I know it. So if AB 2500 passes, marijuana users would theoretically have to wait three weeks after hitting a joint, smoking a dab or eating a pot candy to get behind the wheel.
AB 2500 was referred to the Assembly Public Safety Committee on March 13th.
3. Assembly member Tom Ammiano introduced Assembly Bill 604 just over a year ago. If passed, the bill “would enact the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Control Act and would create the Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation and Enforcement within the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.”
Since when did the ABC deal with medical matters? AB 604 has been in the Assembly Public Safety Committee since September of last year.
4. And Senator Lou Correa introduced Senate Bill 1262 just a few weeks ago. SB-1262 “would require the State Department of Public Health to license dispensing facilities and cultivation sites that provide, process, and grow marijuana for medical use, as specified, and would make these licenses subject to the restrictions of the local jurisdiction in which the facility operates or proposes to operate.” I.e., Fortuna would be able to maintain its ban on dispensaries.
The bill would also require the state Health Department to establish quality assurance testing standards of medical pot. It would require dispensaries to have certain security requirements in place. And the bill would require the establishment of certain requirements for doctors to recommend medical marijuana, “including prescribed procedural and recordkeeping requirements.”
The bill would establish a stricter protocol for medical marijuana recommendations for minors and it would require the Medical Board of California to “audit a physician and surgeon who recommends medical marijuana more than 100 times in a year to ensure compliance with existing law and would require the board to establish a certification process for physicians who wish to issue medical marijuana recommendations…”
Uh oh. That last part might cramp California’s style.
At the national level, Jared Huffman, our boy in Congress, just introduced the Western Drought Relief Bill on March 13th. The press release from Huffman’s office says the bill meets these two basic principles: “We’re all in this together.” and “Do no harm.” (Press release.)
The bill would do all sorts of water-related things throughout the state and, according to the press release, the bill “cracks down on illegal water diversions for marijuana cultivation. Illegal water diversions not only reduce available water for legal uses, but create a significant environmental threat in Northern California and other rural parts of the state.”
(Huffman also introduced the “PLANT” act last year , which “would establish new penalties for causing environmental damage while cultivating marijuana on federal public lands or while trespassing on private property.” Looks that puppy is stuck in a congressional committee.)
On that note, the US Forest Service released a video called “Marijuana Grows and Restoration” on Feb. 28th. The video provides the Forest Service’s perspective on the harm trespass grows inflict on national forests.
There is a passage in the video about water diversions. “Not only are they clearing vegetation, brush, trees, whatever’s in their way,” a male narrator says, “they’re diverting water from stream courses, building dams.” (“They” being trespass growers.) Then a female narrator says, “Marijuana plants require both sunlight and tremendous amounts of water. A single plant can use up to 15 gallons of water per day.” That seems like a lot. Is that true?
There is a gut-wrenching sequence about poisoned fishers. A Fox Farm soil bag lurks in the background of a couple shots. Yikes. There’s guns, pesticides, rodenticides, irrigation lines, emotionally distraught government employees. Last Tuesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors called for stiffer federal penalties for trespass grows. Shouldn’t they call for nationwide legalization as well?
All of these bills and regulations, proposed or in action, are band aids for the open wounds of prohibition. All these laws, yet chaos persists.
There is no doubt that humans are fucking up the environment. That’s old news that keeps on giving and getting weirder. (Like, what’s with China using chemical-spraying drones to “clean up” pollution?) But in the case of marijuana, will tighter regulation serve to clear the chaos of prohibition?
Maybe. And if the marijuana mess ever gets straightened out, what are we going to do about psychedelics?
In 2010, a couple of years before his death, actor Larry Hagman (the dude from the TV show Dallas) talked about LSD with Joy Behar on HLN. He said that LSD took away his fear of death. He also said, “I think it oughta be mandatory that all our politicians do it at least once.” YouTube clip here. Hagman might be onto something. After all, there are current studies that demonstrate the medicinal value of LSD, MDMA and psilocybin.