California and Marijuana: Up in Smoke?
In November, California voters rejected Proposition 19, a measure that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the golden state. Despite earlier polls suggesting that Californians were ready for more lax pot laws, the measure was defeated 54 to 46 percent. CSAC took an official “oppose” position on the measure, largely based on the challenging regulatory and enforcement aspects of the proposition.
While some might be breathing a little easier with the defeat of Proposition 19, California is still struggling to reckon with its first effort to legalize marijuana. Proposition 215, the voter-approved initiative that decriminalized marijuana for specific medical purposes in California, opened the door for the regulation of the plant and its use for medical purposes. Since its passage in 1996, local governments have faced a multitude of issues related to the legal and illegal usage of medical pot.
In November, a group of county supervisors and staff came together for a medical marijuana workshop, with the goal of discussing some of the serious issues counties face when attempting to get a handle on the use and regulation of marijuana for medical purposes. The workshop, organized by the CSAC Medical Marijuana Working Group, shed light on many of the unintended consequences of Proposition 215, including the environmental damage that large medical marijuana grows are causing, and the legal barriers governments face when attempting to regulate marijuana for food safety and toxic pesticides, among other things. Participants also shared their experiences with the development of local medical marijuana ordinances and the specific approaches that have been successful for the regulation of dispensaries, cooperatives and collectives and cultivation issues.
Clearly, the defeat of Proposition 19 did not end the marijuana debate in California. As counties continue to grapple with complying with the law and ensuring safe and livable communities, discussions will remain on how best to implement Proposition 215.
The goal of the CSAC Medical Marijuana Working Group is provide counties with information and best practices for the regulation of medical marijuana. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.csac.counties.org/default.asp?id=2848.