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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Marijuana Advocates Unsure if New State Law Is Good or Bad

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 2:10 PM

click to enlarge - WHO'S HE HELPING?
  • Who's he helping?

Earlier this summer, medical marijuana advocates sounded the legislative alarm over a bill penned by a Southern California assemblyman that gives local governments the right to ban medical cannabis dispensaries, as many a Bay Area burgh from Danville to Daly City has already done.

Both Americans for Safe Access and California NORML, which lobby for patients' rights and outright legalization, respectively, opposed AB 1300, authored by valley dude Assemblyman Bob Blumenfeld of Van Nuys, and begged Governor Jerry Brown not to sign it -- as Brown did yesterday.

So is this latest development a loss or a win; an abrogation of rights guaranteed to Californians under state medical marijuana law, or a recognition that medical marijuana distribution is a valid concept?

Depends on who you ask.

For folks on the ground, Blumenfield's bill actually does very little: The cities and counties that have banned medical marijuana dispensaries can continue to do so. Likewise, the places -- like San Francisco -- that have permitted them are unchanged, and the same with the municipalities that have punted the issue. Heads in the sand stay in the sand, et cetera.

Prior to Brown signing AB 1300, Americans for Safe Access issued an e-mail alert asking supporters of pot purveyors to oppose the bill, saying that it "authorizes cities and counties to ban cooperatives and collectives. That means access can be eliminated in some communities altogether!"

That is not what voters intended when they adopted Proposition 215 in 1996, calling on lawmakers "to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana."

But rather than fume and promise litigation when Brown signed the bill on Tuesday, ASA was more circumspect. "It does at least recognize their legitimacy and the need of patients to access these modes of distribution," the group wrote.

This is perhaps true, though it's also true that the bill doesn't do anything to help, as NORML pointed out. Perspective is everything, it appears.

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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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