Attorney General to Lawmakers: Clarify CA Medical Cannabis Laws, Decide if Dispensaries are Legal

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Talk about making a mockery of Swiss cheese.

While Michigan’s attorney general used that phrase when talking about all the holes in the state’s medical marijuana laws, those words could also apply to California.

On Wednesday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris told state lawmakers that they must work to firm up and clarify the state’s medical pot laws by determining once and for all if dispensaries are indeed legal. Kamala pointed to the numerous holes in the MMJ laws, which have created a precarious environment in which medical pot proprietors, city leaders, local law enforcement officials and patients are constantly struggling to understand what is legal and what isn’t.

The attorney general’s request comes in a difficult year for the California medical marijuana industry, which has shriveled due to numerous raids, pressure from the federal government and local bans and moratoriums. At issue is whether the state’s MMJ laws allow medical marijuana to be distributed through storefront dispensaries, patient collectives or caregivers.

“Without a substantive change to existing law, these irreconcilable interpretations of the law, and the resulting uncertainty for law enforcement and seriously ill patients, will persist,” Harris wrote in a letter to top state lawmakers, urging them to lead efforts to clarify the law.

Harris is more or less sympathetic to the medical marijuana industry, unlike Michigan’s attorney general, who is vehemently opposed to the idea of legalizing MMJ. Aside from the letter to top lawmakers, Harris also asked legislators in a separate note to spend more time on other problems, such as international gangs, rather than cracking down on medical pot patients and operations.

With pressure from the attorney general, California might tackle the issue next year. As well it should, given the turmoil in recent months.

Still, it’s worth noting that there’s a chance lawmakers will decide that all dispensaries should be outlawed, which most certainly would set up a protracted legal battle. However, the more likely scenario is that they would clearly define how dispensaries should operate, putting more restrictions on the industry but ensuring it has a solid, stable future.