On November 5, 1996, the voters of California approved Proposition 215 also known as The Compassionate Use Act of 1996. It authorized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, becoming the first state to allow such use. Currently 23 states have access to medical marijuana, with states like Colorado and Oregon placing regulations on the medical industry. Although California can be said to be the pioneer in terms of medical marijuana, it has lacked regulations since the passing of Prop 215.
As of now, little regulation is in place in California in regards to the production and transportation of medical marijuana within the state, but AB266 plans to change that. In essence, this bill will establish a Department which will be in charge of the regulation and licensing of medical marijuana, as well as adopting a system for reporting the movement of commercial cannabis and cannabis products.
The requirements for AB243 propose regulations or standards to be made by state agencies relating to medical marijuana and its cultivation, in addition to allowing local agencies to take steps to mitigate the impact that marijuana cultivation has on the environment. Lastly, SB643 would place regulations on the recommending of marijuana made by physicians. For example, it will regulate the amount of recommendations a doctor may give, as well as ensuring they are evaluating the patient in “good faith”.
In taking the steps to place regulations the State of California, although may be seen as limiting access, can potentially create safer access for patients. In effect, AB266 can set standards and allow a more uniform procedure of establishing dispensaries, and having those which are illegally operating be shut down. As of now, local agencies are passing different ordinances which either allow or ban dispensaries. With this proposal in effect local agencies will have more guidance from state agencies on how to deal with dispensaries.
Further, AB243 would create standards in the productions, such as testing for pesticides or other harmful chemicals that could place a patient at risk. This will ensure that patients know what they are consuming, thereby allowing patients to be better informed. In spite of the possibility of increasing the production cost of marijuana, the benefit of having safer access would outweigh this increase.
Given that SB243 can limit the amount of recommending’s a physicians can make, it can potentially handicap those needing access. However, it can ensure that those who can truly benefit from the medical properties of marijuana are obtaining access, while eliminating those that are using for recreational purposes. It will also ensure that patient’s know the precautions of using marijuana, as it will require a good faith evaluation. In addition, it can put a stop on those physicians profiting from excessively recommending marijuana.
In conclusion, supposing these regulations do take into effect, although not ideal, it will benefit the medical marijuana industry in the long run. The state of California is in need of regulations, as it has been lacking since the passage of Prop 215. With the bad social political view marijuana has with the current drug war laws, these regulations can ensure medical marijuana maintains a good reputation in the eyes of those who oppose. It can open the door for more testing to be made to fully understand the medical benefits of marijuana.