State Senator Lou Correa (D-Anaheim) has pulled off the impossible: he's authored medical marijuana legislation that is actually supported by both the California League of Cities (which has both lobbied against pot dispensaries and helped cities actively ban them) as well as law enforcement, which has never supported a single pro-pot bill.
The proposed legislation, SB 1262, would regulate dispensaries, physicians and cultivation sites. Specifically, the State Department of Public Health would be responsible for licensing all dispensaries and grow operations, which would also be subject to inspections by county health departments. Meanwhile, there would be no such requirements for private medical marijuana patients, whose right to grow and consume pot would remain unchanged under current state law.
That's the good news. Click on through for the not-so-great stuff.
Okay, so the fact that cops and city officials support this bill was a pretty big clue that Correa's bill isn't exactly opening California up to the type of legalization underway in Colorado and Washington. Indeed, the rub occurs where the legislation calls for the regulation of physicians. As it turns out, the bill would require that any doctor who recommends marijuana for a patient must "have a bona fide doctor-patient relationship" with that person. That's another way of saying that the doctor in question must be either the patient's primary care physician or a doctor to whom the patient is referred by their primary care physician.
Needless to say, pro-legalization advocates like CA NORML aren't exactly jumping for joy. "This would effectively make it impossible for the innumerable patients whose primary care physicians do not know or care about medical marijuana to obtain recommendations," argues NORML's Dale Gierenger, who adds that most patients have limited options in choosing their primary care physicians. That said, Gierenger sees some value in the bill. "While the physician restrictions in SB 1262 are highly objectionable and need to be defeated, it is nonetheless a welcome development that law enforcement has thrown in the towel and endorsed the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries, an idea they have previously stoutly resisted," he says. 'Hopefully this is an omen that the legislature will finally enact a much-needed medical marijuana industry regulation bill this session–but without unacceptable restrictions on doctors."