CA NORML’s upcoming Cannabis in California: Ending the 100 Year War conference, being held on January 26th and 27th in San Francisco, will feature various industry leaders and well-known activists discussing strategies for legalizing recreational marijuana in California. The two-day conference may bring an announcement for drafting plans and strategies to fund an initiative for medical marijuana regulation in 2014, following up with adult legalization in 2016.
With a conference of such magnitude coming up, I asked myself – Given the state’s rich history of cannabis economics and culture, how could California cheaply and effectively regulate commercial medical marijuana, and eventually integrate that market into a regulated adult market, should voters approve that in the future?
For many of us Californians, we demand quality cannabis. After living in near downtown Los Angeles for the past year, I saw first-hand the struggle to find quality and honest medical marijuana. Seriously ill patients in certain areas of California are often left in the dark when it comes to their medication, and have no set standard of reference to know which medicine will relieve their pain, and which strains should be avoided.
To help cannabis consumers obtain quality medicine, the Regulation of Medical Cannabis Act (written for 2014 election) has, among other things, the following key provisions:
(1) License schedule with reasonable annual fees, administered by the ABC (Winery-style cultivation, hard alcohol-style distribution). Includes certain statewide zoning pre-emption in areas and numbers where applicable alcohol production or distribution is provided (off-sale and on-sale). Allows local regulation outside of the explicit pre-emption provided.
(2) “**Real California Cannabis” *voluntary* medical marijuana labeling*. This label applies to cannabis that exemplifies the best produced pesticide-free and adulterant-free medical marijuana grown within the state of California, under a list of conditions (see attached). The act authorizes state-licensed testing facilities (en masse*) to voluntarily test and label, under penalty of perjury, MMJ cultivated or manufactured by qualified patients, caregivers, or licensees.
(3) A 21st-century voluntary patient verification program that’s usable by licensees and law enforcement, but administered by the ABC. Allows doctors and verification agencies to register, and issue internal reference numbers for their registered patients in a voluntary patient card verification program via magnetic stripe or quick reference code. Verification via this system is absolutely not required, but would quickly allow qualified patients to obtain their medicine without any unnecessary paperwork. Licensees could also scan any state-issued medical marijuana identification card for verification (See attached for detailed information).
(4) Expands personal protection amounts to the 24oz/24 plants standard, and doesn’t infringe upon existing rights under the MMPA. (Also eliminates the discrepancy created with the Bergen decision, allowing for MMJ patients and collectives to now utilize butane in the manufacture of concentrated cannabis.)
With upcoming court rulings anticipated to liberalize California’s medical marijuana not-for-profit collective association law already, we should devise innovative new-age methods of regulation and quality-checking medicine, and usher in California’s next green rush. The “Real California Cannabis” label may help the industry self-regulate, and help California bring a new image to the growers and the industry as a whole.