Legalizing Marijuana for Adults in California
Medical Marijuana Regulation
California’s medical marijuana law is carried out on the local level via regulation by cities and counties rather through a statewide system. In the absence of state regulation, local cities and counties throughout California have worked hard to establish regulatory structures for their medical marijuana programs. Local governments in cities such as Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco have taken a proactive approach to regulation by licensing facilities and altering their tax structures to tightly control marijuana distribution. Local governments in cities such as San Jose and Los Angeles, however, have taken a reactive approach that has led to periods of non-regulation when unregulated facilities proliferated. This proliferation is blamed, by some, for the heightened scrutiny of the state’s U.S. Attorneys over the past two years, resulting in a crack-down, the magnitude of which has not been seen since Proposition 215 was passed. Tightly regulated cultivation programs, such as Northstone Organics in Mendocino County and dispensaries such as Berkeley Patients Group, have fallen victim to the crackdown, among concerns about proximity to schools and the size of the operations. Recently, after the federal government threatened to shut down Harborside Health Center, Oakland’s largest dispensary, the city of Oakland sued the federal government, becoming one of the first cities to fight back against the federal government on this issue. Oakland officials, such as City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, spoke out against federal interference after a raid on Oaksterdam University, a marijuana trade school in downtown Oakland.
DPA is committed to protecting patient access in California and plays an active role in a number of state and local coalitions, as well as communicating our priorities to representatives in Sacramento and Washington. View our recent letter to US Attorney Melinda Haag.
While efforts to end marijuana prohibition outright and secure safe access to medical marijuana regulation continue, research has forged ahead seeking therapeutic and medical applications for cannabinoids, the active ingredients in marijuana. While THC is the most well-known cannabinoid, scientists have discovered at least 80 others, most of which are not psychoactive, but are highly therapeutic. The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research was established through the University of California, San Diego in 2000 and conducted the first randomized clinical trials of smoked marijuana in the United States in 20 years. After conducting six such studies, the scientists concluded, “we now have reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment in selected pain syndromes caused by injury or diseases of the nervous system, and possibly for painful muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.” These results were delivered to the federal government in 2010. However, marijuana remains a schedule I drug with no accepted medical value.
Proposition 215: Medical Marijuana in California
In 1996 California became the first state to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes with the passage of DPA-sponsored Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act. This groundbreaking policy paved the way for 17 additional states, plus Washington DC to pass their own medical marijuana laws. With support for medical marijuana at an all-time high of 80%, DPA will continue to work with states and individuals on ensuring safe access to medical marijuana by advocating for well-written, implementable medical marijuana policies. As a result of DPA’s work, millions of Americans who suffer from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other serious illnesses, in California and across the country are no longer criminals under state law for using marijuana as medicine.