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Brown Signs New Med-Pot Regs

Governor Jerry Brown has signed the package of bills known as the Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. The very name implies that the herb is dangerous.

Two weeks ago Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, a Sebastopol potdoc, attended a forum in Santa Monica addressed by three of the politicians who drafted the bills. When he got back, Hergenrather shared his impressions with O'Shaughnessy's.

Hergenrather: The first session consisted of talks by three of the authors —Assemblymen Ken Cooley, Reggie Jones-Sawyer, and Jim Wood. There were critiques of the Act from people in the audience. There were concerns that by sundowning SB 420 [California’s current Medical Marijuana Program] the Act would result in patients not allowed to grow for their friends and family.

Hergenrather suggested to Wood that California medical schools be mandated to teach doctors-to-be about the endocannabinoid system and Cannabis-based medicine. Wood said that the legislature is not allowed to tell California educators what to include in the curriculum.

O’S: But couldn’t they make a recommendation? They’re recommending that the medical board go after “excessive recommenders.”

Hergenrather: Wood thought we were going to have to approach each medical school individually. Which may be true.

O’S: I think after one adds Cannabis Medicine, they all will. Everyone wants to be second. But then the fight will be over the content of the course. Are they going to teach the med students that nine percent of users get addicted as if that were some established truth? They have to — a 9% addiction rate is the basis for the whole treatment racket.

Hergenrather: Someone suggested that the state's agricultural laws might enable people to grow. It might have been Tony Oliviera, the keynote speaker —a consultant in Sacramento who is also a farmer. According to Oliviera, as much as 80% of California cannabis production goes out of the state. He focused on fees, taxes and fines. Eight percent was mentioned as a flat rate for marijuana sales. Oliviera felt strongly that we shouldn’t allow local governments to add to the taxes imposed by the state. Fees may be added. Somebody said “fees are another word for taxes.”

Someone objected to medicine being taxed and basically the answer was “Sorry.”

Someone said that raising fees in California would boost exporting out-of-state. Everyone recognizes that’s a risk and apparently law enforcement is okay with it. More activity for them.

The Act will take effect in 2018, according to Brown's signing statement. Some of its provisions may be overridden by a "legalization" ballot initiative in 2016.

It was Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) who drafted the original bill at the behest of Law Enforcement and the League of Cities. On September 24 Bonta published an op-ed in the Oakland Tribune asserting, "This is the comprehensive regulatory framework that California has been in desperate need of for almost 20 years." Bear in mind that Law Enforcement adamantly opposed Prop 215 when California voters legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996. None of their dire warnings panned out, of course; there has been no spike in schizophrenia rates, driving fatalities, use by teenagers, etc. The problems with implementation have been created by the cops themselves refusing to follow the will of the voters —the letter and spirit of Prop 215.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tony Craver told your correspondent in 2004 that 47 of his 48 deputies were "hard-chargers" who could hardly stand to abide by Prop 215. Just last month, according to the AVA, Sonoma County Sheriff's spokeswoman Sergeant Cecile Focha said "Deputies are continuing to enforce all laws in the same way as prior to passage of Proposition 215." And that's the whole truth and nothing but.

If the cops had stopped busting growers, if the herb could be sold at farmers markets like kale, the price would have come down and there would be no incentive to rob and kill or divert water illegally —and no justification for an ongoing law enforcement role all these years (and, given the regs Brown just signed, forever and ever, amen).

Law Enforcement lobbyists and flacks — "union leaders" — recognized that with the passage of Prop 215, the marijuana genie's head was out of the bottle, so their strategy ever since has been to press down on her shoulders and get funded to do so. This funding would not be possible unless marijuana was defined as a very dangerous substance that the citizenry cannot have free access to. The medical establishment establishes that cannabis is dangerous, mainly because of damage to the "developing brain" and an alleged 9% addiction rate among heavy users. (Alan Leshner, the salesman who headed NIDA when they came up with their 9% solution, probably figured that 11% would sound too expensive.) Psychiatrists have disproportionate influence within the medical establishment, and the Addiction Specialists have disproportionate influence within Psychiatry. (Leshner, BTW, was merely a psychologist.)

This was Rob Bonta's bottom line in the Oak Trib:

• California can no longer ignore an industry that has operated for nearly 20 years with no testing standards, little enforcement, environmental neglect and no tools to combat drugged driving.

• With this legislation, known as Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, the Wild West of the medical marijuana industry will be reined in, benefiting all of California. Patients will have more assurances that their products are safe. Law enforcement will have a foundation for identifying drugged drivers and increased funding to protect the public.

When Prop 215 passed almost 20 years ago, Tod Mikuriya, MD, called on reformers to audit every relevant state, county, and city agency to ensure that they were changing their protocols in response to the new law, and to file civil actions as needed to ensure compliance. He couldn't get the backing from the honchos, who went off to other states with weaker initiatives and abandoned California to face the wrath of the losers (the Attorney General and 57 of 58 district attorneys). Tod tried to do the audit himself with his assistant, John Trapp, while running a practice. Dr. Quixote.

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