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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ammiano's Cannabis Bill a 'Rumor' -- For Now

Posted By on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 7:15 AM

Buzz kill
  • Buzz kill

You know the old saying: Where there's Tom Ammiano, there's cannabis.

California's most cannabis-friendly assemblyman is being connected with an "omnibus cannabis bill" meant to reform, regulate, and clarify the many gray areas in California's medical marijuana laws. Aside from that, some said, this bill would allow California's dispensaries -- all nonprofit collectives or cooperatives -- to finally end the "charade" and let businesses that sell medical cannabis turn a profit.

That would be a huge breakthrough... if it were true.

The problem is this: Ammiano has no plans to allow California medical marijuana providers to (openly) turn a profit. In fact, the bill is many months away from being written, and any version of it will likely not surface until the fall -- at the earliest, an Ammiano spokesman said Wednesday.

"The rumor was, we have a catch-all omnibus cannabis bill, but the fact is, we're just starting the process," said Quintin Mecke, Ammiano's spokesman. "Everyone acknowledges that something needs to be done, but the process might not be completed this year."

Before he makes the leap, Ammiano wants to see written a successor bill to last year's Proposition 19, Mecke said.

Exactly who is

writing that bill or what will be in it is unclear. Representatives

for Richard Lee of Oaksterdam University, the chief sponsor of Prop. 19, remained tight-lipped about who is on the organizing committee.

So until a bill is conceived, the content of any future Ammiano bill is mere wishful thinking.

The most pressing issue for California's cannabis cultivators and

distributors is how they should interpret the word "sell." That was partly what Los

Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley jumped on when he cracked down -- hard -- on LA's dispensaries until the LA City Council could cobble together regulations. Clarifying

that, and the laws regarding transportation of medicine, will

be "key," Mecke said.

It's also worth mentioning that the Bay Area doesn't even need such a bill. Medical cannabis dispensaries operate with little issue in San

Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, where city leaders established local rules governing the implementation of medical

marijuana, just as Senate Bill 420 allowed them to do. The problem is

that other cities, like LA and San Jose, avoided the issue entirely

until dispensaries -- some of which are run by unsavory characters --

proliferated, creating problems that required the

involvment of law enforcement.

"It's frustrating because [situations like San Jose's] are used

politically as examples of the system running amok, when, frankly, it

hasn't," Mecke said.

In any event, Ammiano will spend the spring and summer in wait-and-see

mode, while meeting with "stakeholders" like dispensary owners, and cops, to assess everyone's needs.

Until then, don't expect anything more than rumors.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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