While Los Angeles considers an outright ban on medical cannabis dispensaries, the state of California is moving in a different direction.
The state Assembly gave the initial green light to a bill this week that would bring regulation and oversight to the medical marijuana industry – not force all cannabis businesses to shut down.
This is a significant development for California’s medical marijuana community, even if the measure ultimately fails in the Senate. For one, it shows that legislators are starting to think critically about how best to reform an industry that sorely needs an overhaul. Secondly, and just as importantly, it shows that many lawmakers do indeed think MMJ businesses have a place in the state.
Although some marijuana entrepreneurs remain vehemently opposed to regulation, oversight is absolutely necessary for the industry to gain legitimacy. It’s also the only way to ensure that professional businessmen and women dominate the industry (rather than criminals) and is vital to easing the pressure from the federal government. As it stands now, California’s MMJ industry is largely unregulated – a prime reason it has been the key focus of the Obama administration’s recent crackdown on medical cannabis businesses.
The measure would set up a regulatory agency to set and enforce rules for marijuana dispensaries across California. Dispensaries would have to register with the state and possibly obtain licenses to operate. At least one dispensary would be allowed in each city and county, though local officials – or voters – in those areas could opt for a ban.
The measure faces an uphill battle in the Senate. Republicans are opposed to the bill, saying it will further confuse the MMJ situation in California, while other lawmakers aren’t convinced it’s the best way to reform the industry.