California police groups, determined to kill medical marijuana in California after 17 years of failure, have sunk a bill that would have enacted some of the very regulations they complain are lacking.
These policy narcs have taken the formal position that there is no such thing as medical pot, no matter what most doctors and their own state marijuana laws may say. They reject any approach that might legitimize medicinal cannabis by laying a framework of regulations around it.
Instead, they appear to believe they will eventually outlaw marijuana in California again. The tide is decidedly not in their favor, but they seem willing to use any legislative or political tools at their disposal to delay and prevent reform of the existing system.
California Senate Bill 439, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would have codified the medical marijuana guidelines promulgated by the state attorney general. Those guidelines, though important to the medical marijuana community, don’t have the force of law, and many police and pot collectives simply ignore them.
The bill was presented as a first step toward stability and enforceable standards in the medical marijuana market. It would have allowed the state to exert some control over a notoriously free-wheeling system.
But the bill was withdrawn Aug. 14, apparently under pressure from groups that oppose medical marijuana in any circumstances – including several major law enforcement groups.
“The California Narcotic Officers’ Association opposes this bill stating there is a reason that over 200 cities have taken action to impose outright bans on marijuana dispensaries – they create significant public safety and quality of life problems in communities,” the group said in a statement against the bill.
Numerous groups, many of them police-based, oppose any set of rules for medical marijuana, believing it would make it harder for them to kill what has been a solid reality since voters approved it in 1996. These groups will likely also stand in the way of full legalization efforts in 2016. Most of them, ironically, complain loudly about the lack of regulations.
What they really want, pot advocates say, is a return to a state where marijuana patients are treated like criminals and severe medical conditions go untreated. And while they’ll never succeed, they are making it more difficult for the system to work.
“The bill faced tough opposition from law enforcement lobbyists before a key committee hearing this week,” Don Duncan of the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access told the East Bay Express. “I was really disappointed by that. Law enforcement keeps saying they want to see this regulated. They just don’t want anything that could be seen as legitimizing or institutionalizing medical cannabis.”
Steinberg’s bill was the last chance for marijuana reform in the 2013 legislative session. In the meantime, communities across the state will continue their lockout of dispensaries and, in many places, their persecution of delivery services, and federal law enforcement will continue to target those who provide legitimate medical services to patients in need.