Last week was a relatively tame one for the medical marijuana industry, with only a trickle of negative news instead of the typical flood.
In California, Sacramento County supervisors voted to effectively ban dispensaries from unincorporated areas of the region. Fortunately, the decision doesn’t affect the city of Sacramento itself, where there are nearly two dozen dispensaries. But it does represent the final nail in the coffin for the MMJ industry in most of the county, where a larger crackdown by local officials has already wiped out most medical pot centers. Just eight remain, and they will all have to close in light of last week’s decision.
It’s clear that the industry is going through some major growing pains, particularly in California. The era of unregulated medical marijuana is coming to an end – as it should. I strongly believe that the future of medical marijuana is in states like Colorado, where strict regulations and hefty oversight help keep dispensaries honest. California should seek a statewide overhaul of its MMJ laws and implement a strict permit and licensing process, as the current system there isn’t working. State officials also need to set up a division or department focused specifically on the industry, much like the one New Mexico is hoping to create. Only then will we see a stable industry.
On a brighter note, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that going after medical pot dispensaries that are complying with state laws remains a low priority for the federal government. This is encouraging because it seemed as if the Obama administration had shifted its position on medical cannabis in recent months, what with the recent crackdown in California and the numerous raids over the past few weeks.
In other developments, Arizona dispensary owners moved to galvanize the state’s sputtering MMJ industry, asking a judge to force Gov. Jan Brewer to move forward with medical cannabis. Brewer has halted Arizona’s dispensary licensing program, saying city workers could face federal prosecution. This has created an odd situation whereby patients can get medical marijuana cards through the state but essentially don’t have anywhere to get the drug. It’s doubtful the judge will side with the MMJ industry, meaning it might take months for all of this to play out. However, the request by pot dispensaries shows that the industry isn’t taking it lying down.
Here are some of our other top stories from last week:
Chris Walsh, Editor