California’s Med Marijuana Laws Need to Get a Fix

February 11th, 2010 at 2:29 pm | 3 Comments |

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California was the first state to approve the use of medical marijuana and now voters are considering decriminalization of all marijuana use.

Recently, I went to a local dispensary in Los Angeles to see how easy it would be to obtain medical marijuana. At the dispensary, I told the owner my back hurt but did not have a prescription.  He assured me there was no problem.  He could send me to “a doctor that was cheap and specialized in medical marijuana evaluation.  The owner of the dispensary offered to call for me “since these doctors are pretty busy.”  I was told the evaluations would not take long because they only ask a few questions and do not do any examinations. The doctor would give a recommendation (he explained it could not be called a prescription since the patient regulates their own dosage)   After getting the recommendation, I could take it to any dispensary and the medical marijuana could be purchased as sodas, candies, lollipops, cookies, brownies, or old fashioned pot cigarettes.  A gram was $20 and a reward card would be given out and punched for every “donation” of $20.  After ten donations a free gift of one gram would be rewarded.  I questioned the word “donation” and was told by the owner, “everything is a donation – it’s an industry buzz word.  You are basically buying it.”  The owner also warned: “if you are not a seasoned smoker— be aware it’s very, very potent.”

Under California’s medical marijuana laws there are no strict controls on who grows marijuana, how it is grown, and how it is dispensed.  Councilman Ed Reyes told FrumForum that there are hundreds of pot dispensaries and only about 20% are legal because there is a whole infrastructure out there “that speaks to profit.”  Reyes added that there were “more dispensaries than Starbucks.  We need to impose controls that monitor where it should be grown and the amount contained in these products to understand the chemical mix, and cut back the amount of dispensaries that give the product out.”

Former LAPD Police Chief William Bratton commented to FrumForum that California “has the worst system of any state.  The regulations and controls are totally missing in action.”  By comparison, under New Jersey’s medical marijuana laws, doctors can only give out prescriptions to patients who are terminally ill or have a debilitating condition.  Also, there are to be no private pot shops.  Only six non-profit operators are allowed statewide, and no home growers are acceptable.

Were the state to decriminalize all marijuana use, this would create an even larger break between California’s state laws and federal laws.  The lack of any regulations or controls would further complicate any attempts to continue enforcing federal drug laws in the state.  Before pushing for further legalization, California should focus on overhauling their current laws.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Danny_K

    Why is any of this bad? Denying treatment to AIDS patients (who are rarely terminal these days) and making treatment inconvenient to citizens is supposed to self-evidently be good. Doesn’t California have real problems to worry about?

  • manddd

    History proves that we do what we want and to make it illegal only enforces gangs and crime (see gambling, alcohol etc….) Also, what is legal can and should be taxed, so cops can go back to serve and protect instead of writing traffic tickets to boost revenues!

  • nancyanny

    This non-problem of medical marijuana that continually is brought up by the octogenarian crowd who seemingly must have been on the set of the 1937′s Reefer Madness and therefore still of the belief that marijuana transforms you into a crazed murderer. The fear of marijuana has been well-seeded over the course of 70 years, and the war on drugs as profiteering has been good for the fed, good for private prisons who get state subsidies for putting more and more people behind bars…

    I find it ironic that a right-wing author would tout the federal govt’s place over state law. As a democrat who actually appreciates the existence of our fed govt, I still believe they should have no say over state sovereignty.

    As we become more and more dividedin ths country (i will say here that i do enjoy Frum and this blog, it has so many really great people on the forums, great articles, fair-minded folks who can see both sides, right & left, and address issues reasonable and not idealistically (in many cases, not all…there are still rabid foamy contributors from the right who paranoid-up the forums w/ their guns and secession talks)), i see people on the left relocating toward the east and west coasts, and people on the right moving toward the middle of this country, to be among “their own kind”. I do pray that our country gets over this bout of insanity driven by media and pols to continually bombard and manipulate the audience. Nothing isn’t political anymore… I love having great conversations w/ my republican friends (prob because i’m a center person, the fringe elements do nothing for inspire ire in all my dem and republican friends, we do wonder why the media gives them so much attn, as if the fringe were the majority…)

    Anyway, thanks for the great article, good investigating but I don’t think it’s something that’s really necessary to worry about — perhaps we should be investigating the banks, let’s figure out how to squeeze more credit out of them for small business loans, let’s talk to the top meatheads and ask how they can sleep at night giving themselves 6- and 7-fig bonuses when they are laying off their employees by the hundreds, cutting loose entire families into the ether of this recession. Let’s talk about how each state needs to fig out how to come up with jobs. We are a republic of 50 states who are each independent to fix their problems, make their laws, create a workable budget (this seems to be out of the realm of all politicians imaginations as they try to bend over backward to please everyone, and how much cheating goes on because human nature is steeped in a greedy, covetous nature). Let the states fig out how they want to handle things like med marijuana, gay marriage (which could be a problem if you move to a non-gay-marriage state, but then, i don’t think the gays will move to utah or etc.)

    Have a great Sat, time to start the day.

    Love the Frum Forums!