Prominent supporters of an effort to regulate medical marijuana in California threatened to withdraw their support after a state Senate committee gutted several portions of the legislation.
The League of California Cities said it would review its support for SB 1262, which cleared the Senate Health Committee April 30.
The bill had the backing of the league and key law enforcement organizations, groups long in opposition to MMJ and marijuana reform. They supported it largely because it would impose tight new restrictions on doctors, ending the 18-year-old practice of walk-in recommendations.
That quirk in the law has essentially made weed legal in the Golden State, and the cops and city managers want to end the party. That’s why the marijuana industry has been skeptical of the bill.
If the backers of SB 1262 had had their way, recommendations could be issued only by a patient’s “bona fide” primary care doctor or a physician referred by the primary care doctor.
Doctors would have been required to discuss the quantity and method of delivery with patients, with special emphasis on the supposed dangers of smoking. These subjects are nearly impossible for any healthcare worker to discuss in meaningful detail when it comes to cannabis – there is nothing like a standard dosage and there are no “approved” methods of delivery.
The bill also would have imposed new reporting and auditing requirements and a certification process for doctors, as well as new restrictions on recommendations to underage patients.
Those requirements all survived a preliminary vote by the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee April 21. But they were stripped before passing the Health Committee 6-0 April 30. The legislation now goes to the Appropriations Committee.
The vote in the Health Committee was a victory for marijuana proponents, who have been pushing for an alternative bill sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco. His legislation would impose new regulations on dispensaries and doctors, but nothing as severe as the rules in the original version of SB 1262.
That bill was proposed by Sen. Lou Correa of Anaheim. Along with its restrictions on doctors, it would formally allow municipalities to ban dispensaries – something the state Supreme Court ruled last year that they could do. The Health Committee left that provision intact.
On May 2, the League of California Cities announced in a press release that it would “be re-evaluating its support position as well as whether to continue sponsoring the measure.”