Sunday, March 04, 2012

Transistions - California's Evolving Marijuana Law

The beauty and craziness of decentralized government means that experiments can happen in some places, but this can make for contradictions.  Right now California is experimenting with medical marijuana dispensaries, trying to figure out how to make it work. 
 While people have advocated for legal marijuana for decades, the big breaktrhough was a voter approved initiative:
Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996,[1] is a California law concerning the use of medical cannabis. It was enacted, on November 5, 1996, by means of the initiative process, and passed with 5,382,915 (55.6%) votes in favor and 4,301,960 (44.4%) against.  [Wikipedia]
Now there are medical dispensaries all over the state.  But some local governments have used zoning laws to ban the dispensaries.

And this past week, the LA Times reports on a court case making local bans illegal:
The Santa Ana-based state Court of Appeal, citing the language of a state medical marijuana law, ruled unanimously Wednesday that a zoning law in Lake Forest amounted to an illegal ban on dispensaries. More than 100 local governments in California currently ban medical marijuana operations.

 There are four other appeal court cases that are expected to go to the state Supreme Court to eliminate some of the contradictions. 

Here's what a state health department website says:

The Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) was established to provide a voluntary medical marijuana identification card issuance and registry program for qualified patients and their caregivers.  The web-based registry system allows law enforcement and the public to verify the validity of qualified patient or caregiver's card as authorization to possess, grow, transport and/or use Medical Marijuana in California.  To facilitate the verification of authorized cardholders, the verification database is available on the internet at
In 2003, Senate Bill (SB) 420 (Chapter 875, Statutes of 2003) was passed as an extension and clarification of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.  The Medical Marijuana Program, within CDPH, is administered through a patient's county of residence.  Upon obtaining a recommendation from their physician for use of medicinal marijuana, patients and their primary caregivers may apply for and be issued, a Medical Marijuana Identification Card.  Senate Bill 420 also required that the MMP be fully supported through the card application processing fees.  Both the state and the counties have authority to cover their costs for the program through these application fees.

The top picture is very clearly a medical marijuana dispensary that operates on the Venice Boardwalk.

When I went by Dr. Schultz's botantical pharmacy I assumed it was a fancier version of a medical marijuana dispensary.  But after checking the website, I don't think that is the case.  
Dr. Schulze's pharmacy was established in 1979 according to its website and I had to look hard to find any mention of marijuana and it is NOT listed among the products.  The only place I could find it mentioned is on a pdf file I can no longer find, titled "Dr. Richard Schultz's Natural Healing Crusade."  There's a long list of herbal medicines and marijuana is mentioned on page 29.   

Meanwhile,  tomorrow we head back for Anchorage.  It's been a long time.  We've had great weather and it's been good to be with my mom all this time and to see our kids and friends.  Our heads are already transitioning.  As much as I've traveled in my life, it is still hard to reconcile the warm sunny weather we're having in LA with the cold and snow that is in Anchorage.  But it is March and the solstice [equinox] is coming soon and after that Anchorage will have more light than every place to the south.  (most places)

The good news is that it will be cooling down in LA the next few days and warming up in Anchorage.  And I'm looking forward to getting on my cross country skis and gliding through the white woods.


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