California Moves To Clean Up Medical Pot Business

By Shawn Dwyer 04/23/14

Fifteen years after its initial passage, California's medical marijuana law remains a headache for state politicians.

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It’s been no secret that California’s medical marijuana law has been an unmitigated mess. A lack of rules and regulations has led to hundreds of random street-corner pot shops sprouting up all over the Golden State.

But thanks to the legalization movement that has grown significantly throughout the U.S., state lawmakers are trying to clamp down on the Wild West culture of California’s medical marijuana industry. "The current state of chaos around medical marijuana has got to come to an end," said Democratic state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco.

Ammiano has long been a supporter of legalizing recreational marijuana and said that his proposed measure would help “set a template” for regulated use among adults. His bill would prevent doctors from prescribing medical marijuana to patients they haven’t examined and would also bar them from writing scripts if they also have a financial interested in a pot dispensary.

The bill would also grant the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control the authority of enforcing regulations and devising methods to increase tax revenues beyond mere sales tax, a plan that drew criticism from the California Narcotics Officers’ Association.

"There is no little irony in the department of Alcoholic Beverage Control as the administering agency for the medical marijuana trade," CNOA said in written testimony. "We know of no other area of law where an agency charged with regulating recreational substances such as alcohol is also given portfolio over matters alleged to be medical."

Meanwhile, local municipalities like Santa Monica are voting on whether or not they should back the proposed State Senate bill, which sees the measure as “a positive step forward in seeking to responsibly regulate medical marijuana because of the bill’s focus on local control, public safety, and public health.”

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.