Ammiano Bill to Allow Marijuana Businesses and Sales That Are Already Legal

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Mr Fix-It
Call it an industry, call it a movement, call it a gigantic scam. Law enforcement and politicians can't agree what to call California's medical marijuana scene, except to say it exists in a legal gray area.

And how. A dispensary operator in Vallejo was arrested last week -- twice -- because the police chief and a majority of the City Council believe state medical marijuana law doesn't allow dispensaries to conduct "sales," and because there's no local ordinance allowing dispensaries, they're illegal.

But state law doesn't say that, according to the retired legislator who wrote the law. And just in case there's still confusion on the matter, a bill introduced Friday by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) not only allows for medical marijuana sales -- and would appear to allow for profit -- it also makes it clear that dispensaries are fine and dandy under state law.

If passed, Ammiano's bill, A.B. 2312, would allow "collectives, cooperatives, and other business entities to cultivate, acquire, process, possess, transport, test, sell, and distribute marijuana for medical purposes." This is a departure from current law, which says the above are not subject to penalties.

The bill also makes it a misdemeanor for a doctor to give a bad recommendation, and would limit dispensaries to one per a city of 50,000 residents. And -- and most importantly -- it creates a medical marijuana bureaucracy.

The governor, the assembly speaker, and the Senate Committee on Rules would appoint nine people to the Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement, a new body within the Department of Consumer Affairs. This body would be in charge of the Medical Marijuana Fund, which would be funded with state fees and fines.

Ammiano's bill is similar to a proposed ballot initiative: The Medical Marijuana Regulation
Control and Taxation Act, the brainchild of medical marijuana patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access and labor union United Food and Commercial Workers. A major difference is that the MMRCTA includes a state tax, which requires a two-thirds majority, according to a release from Ammiano's office.

Nobody from team Ammiano was available for comment Sunday, but even if it doesn't pass, the bill will "raise awareness" in the legislature that the industry needs some kind of fix, UFCW organizer Dan Rush said via e-mail.

Even if the bill is passed, however, it's highly unlikely it will become law: A bill passed last year allowing California farmers in select counties to grow hemp was returned without Gov. Jerry Brown's signature, and it's generally taken as a given that Brown will not sign any medical marijuana-related bills.

So who's going to convince local law enforcement that sales are allowed -- and what about profit?

Claims that dispensaries turn profits has been used by both federal and state law enforcement officials to shut down pot clubs. But barring medical marijuana operators from turning a profit was never on the table, said retired state Sen. John Vasconcellos, the author of 2003's Senate Bill 420.

"It was a deal-breaker," he said in a recent telephone interview. The bill does include language saying "nothing in this section shall allow," a profit, but that does not mean a profit isn't prohibited either, he said.

But since law enforcement officers have gone on record with this newspaper saying that medical marijuana is a sham, good luck using that one in court.

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Danielle Russell
Danielle Russell

Hello sfweekly! I do like the idea of "re-legalizing" as opposed to "de-criminalizing." Branding is popular with political movements for a reason - it works!You think the Patriot Act would have passed if called the "Act to allow the government to search damn near anything, anytime, for almost any reason"?With all that said, the movement towards decriminalization is refreshing and surprisingly supported by politicians on both sides of the aisle. This has not reached a critical mass yet, but i predict it will after the election.

Mickey Martin
Mickey Martin

The assertion Jerry Brown would not sign a medical cannabis bill is a falsehood being put forth by UFCW to erode support for Ammiano, in favor of the much more UFCW friendly MMRCTA initiative, which cements UFCW's position as the only union that could serve the cannabis industry. Here is what the head of CANORML said about this claim, in relation to the hemp bill that is referred to:

  Jerry's veto message to the hemp bill reads:"Federal law clearly establishes that all cannabis plants, including industrial hemp, are marijuana, which is a federally regulated controlled substance. Failure to obtain a permit from the U.S. DEA prior to growing such plants will subject a California farmer to criminal prosecution."    Jerry was concerned that the bill would expose farmers, and by extension the state, to new liability under federal law.    This objection doesn't necessarily apply to medical marijuana, since California voters have already exposed the state to liability in this area by approving Prop. 215.

It is disingenuous at best, as Jerry Brown signed the first medical cannabis dispensary ordinance as Mayor of Oakland and AG Kamala Harris has called for these regulations repeatedly, going as far as not releasing guidelines because she wants the Legislature to act instead. Jerry WILL sign this if it passes, no doubt...

Muzzy Lu
Muzzy Lu

Just legalize marijuana, and stop all the bickering about how many plants you can grow, and how many storefronts can sell it. Great e-book on medical marijuana: MARIJUANA - Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. This book has great recipes for easy marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints. 

goo.gl/iYjPn  goo.gl/Jfs61

stat is fact...
stat is fact...

In Germany, everything is prohibited unless a law allows it.In France, everything is allowed unless it's prohibited by law.Where would you rather live?

Average Reader
Average Reader

I'm an idiot and wanted to post something inane and barely comprehensible like the rest of these commenters, too.

Yourdimestarttalking
Yourdimestarttalking

 Guess you took the high road ! -- and you're a better person for it... Thanks.

larry
larry

hello. the entire blue brotherhood survival manual into generous retirement benefits depends upon cannabis remaining illegal. illegal drugs are just for the privileged. making cannabis legal will cause the weak link breakdown of society. America is not ready to give up illegal drug money. stop this compassionate care sham on medicine, and execute these dispensary owners. our children will refuse to support themselves if they are allowed to grow with legal cannabis. stop this cannabis nonsense now. nip it in the bud. soft drugs are unbearable. the inhumanity of children stealing buds, for God's sake- shoot these drug dealers.

Wow
Wow

You are an unbelievably ignorant bigot.

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles is a non-profit, with over $7 billion in annual revenue.

Sunkist is a non-profit agricultural co-operative organized under California law with over $1 billion in annual revenue.

The CEO of the Girl Scouts of America has a compensation package worth almost $600k annually. The Girl Scouts sell cookies in a fund raising drive every year, with a mark-up of several hundred percent over cost.

Angry Bob
Angry Bob

Agreed! Girl Scouts are a lesbian cabal teaching the merits of Communism and the joys of free abortions.

Boycott these them now and let those little girls selling cookies in front of your supermarket they're being taught to hate America!

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

I don't participate in fanatic religionist persecutions. Regardless of what they believe they're a legitimate non-profit organization with highly compensated executives.

Couldn't you think of an ad hominem fallacy for Sunkist or Cedars-Sinai Hospital?

Matthew Meyer
Matthew Meyer

You wrote, "...that does not mean a profit isn't prohibited either, he said." Since you're contrasting that to the fact that SB 420 has language saying "nothing in this section shall allow" profits, Vasconcellos must have meant it doesn't mean making profit *is* prohibited.Vasconcellos rightly points out that just because the section itself does not authorize profit-making does not constitute a prohibition in itself. For some folks, everything not permitted is prohibited (and everything that is not prohibited is compulsory?).As far as I can tell, this whole dispute revolves around a misunderstanding of what "profit" means. I am not sure how a dispensary would convince the no-profit crowd that it was not, in fact, making a profit. Many non-profit corporations pay large salaries to management; it should be a question of what happens to surpluses when salaries and other expenses are paid.

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