The Next Round: Medical Cannabis Initiative Slated for Ballot 020812
A coalition of medical marijuana growers, distributors, union representatives and patients have crafted a ballot measure which would be the next move in a test of wills with the Obama administration.
The measure, the Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, which is still working its way through the process to get on the ballot, could be ready for signatures as early as next week.
The measure would further regulate California’s legal medical marijuana trade, an industry worth over a billion and a half dollars by some estimates. That kind of money pays a lot of taxes and creates a lot of jobs, hence the union involvement in the issue.
Medical marijuana has created a schism between medical marijuana industry, now a wealthy player in the state, and the old guard, non-medical marijuana growers. This measure would reconcile many of the concerns of established growers, including licensing procedures. Even more outlaw growers would sell strictly to medical dispensaries, if they could. All growers fear either an influx of “tobacco company” style growers, who would grow thousands of acres in the Central Valley, or urban indoor growers who could rent warehouses and swamp the market with indoor bud, which is more highly prized than outdoor bud (a cultural reversal of preference and another unexpected consequence of medical marijuana).
Medical Cannabis would be overseen by a commission, composed mostly of medical cannabis industry people, as is the style of oversight in the U.S. They would execute the tax and permit portion of the law.
Federal prosecutors remain resistant. They claim the Obama administration isn’t targeting individual users, and that they had to do something in California where dispensaries were using Las Vegas style marketing to hook users up. Their efforts have dampened the support of some local governments, and have reduced the total number of dispensaries in the state by a quarter, to 900. This doesn’t count the many, many informal coops where people grow for a small number of clients, usually less than 10. Feds also claim allowing medical marijuana dispensaries “sends the wrong message to impressionable people”, as though it were the government’s job to monitor social messages.
The measure is very likely to pass, and even more likely to siphon votes from the “Regulate Marijuana like Wine” measure, presenting yet another unexpected consequence of medical marijuana: the industry doesn’t want marijuana regulated like wine, or otherwise legalized, since that would cut into the patent to sell which medcan provides them. Once again, we’ll see the unlikely coupling of medical marijuana growers and dispensary owners and right wing cop freaks to prevent legalizing cannabis.
It’s an odd world.