California Senate moves to crush medical marijuana profits
From The Raw Story 22 May 2013 -
California Senate moves to crush medical marijuana profits. A bill approved by the California state senate on Monday would further restrict the state’s medical marijuana industry by requiring the end of all for-profit sales of the drug to licensed patients and caregivers.
The proposed law would go further than the state attorney general’s non-binding guidelines issued in 2008, making the not-for-profit collective model mandatory for dispensaries. Provisions in S.B. 439 would also place even greater records-keeping requirements on dispensary owners, who would still be entitled to reasonable compensation for their time and efforts. In theory, that should allow tax enforcers to peer more closely at dispensary finances to ensure shady businesses are not taking profits while reporting none.
“Everybody benefits from tighter regulations,” Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Raw Story. “Where you run into problems is when you have a law that can be interpreted several different ways, which means that people trying to comply with the law don’t know where they stand.”
Former Attorney General Jerry Brown, now the state’s governor, issued those 2008 guidelines after several law enforcement agencies asked for clarification on who can be prosecuted and why. After California voters legalized medical marijuana in 1996, the state updated the laws again in 2004 with S.B. 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act, moving the industry from a Wild West-like stage to a system of voluntary regulations that established a licensing system and put limits on growing and purchasing the drug.
“[The Senate bill] gives the force of law to the guidelines established by the attorney general in 2008,” Lindsey added. “Where before the guidelines were guidelines, they would have the force of law, and I think that benefits everyone.”
However, those voluntary regulations have not settled the dispute cities around the state are still having with medical marijuana dispensaries. Over 200 municipalities have banned pot shops outright — actions which the California Supreme Court upheld — and on Tuesday Los Angeles voters will decide on competing initiatives that deal with the same issue. The city council’s favored initiative, Proposition D, would dramatically shrink the number of dispensaries in the city. Measure F, which dispensaries support, would impose higher taxes on dispensary revenues and allow store owners to launch their own industry-wide set of voluntary regulations. If Measure F passes, however, the council still has the ability to completely ban all dispensaries within city limits.