Report: California Marijuana Access Offered National Lessons, Part 2

In analyzing what access to medical marijuana in California has meant for those in this state, our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers first explored how our state disproved many of the negative predictions about what would happen.
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The New York Times recently delved into the issue, as Colorado and Washington state stand poised to be the first to allow growth, sale and consumption of the drug for recreational purposes.

More are likely to follow, given a recent Gallup poll study that revealed 58 percent of American firmly believe the drug should be fully legalized.

Since California was the first to approve medicinal marijuana 17 years ago, the 19 other states that followed (plus the District of Columbia) took several pages from our playbook of what not to do. But there were also examples throughout the state of how to do it right.

A perfect example is what we have seen in communities like Oakland, San Jose and others, where clear regulatory standards early on headed off scores of problems at the pass. The state had left regulatory guidelines largely to local communities. Those who were proactive in their efforts to create a solid framework seem to have been the most successful – and have proven a great benefit to their communities.

Most of these cities and regions are in Northern California, where the drug has become a cash crop fueling an economic boon. It’s generated tax revenues. It’s kick-started a number of ancillary industries. And it’s generated wealth among locals.

It’s not just those selling marijuana. There are scientists employed at labs where testing is conducted. There are stores that sell hydroponic grow equipment. There are insurance companies and software developers and security officials – all thriving in the wake of marijuana as medicine.

At the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, which has been previously touted as the largest dispensary in the state, some $1.2 million ins generated annually for local taxes.

Those cities that took charge on regulation early on have seen little to no issues with the public safety or crime that is forewarned by law enforcement advocacy groups, which continue to remain staunch opponents of the pro-marijuana movement. Of course, one should consider that law enforcement agencies receive a great deal of resources to “combat” the marijuana “problem,” so they have a clear vested interest in maintaining the failed war on drugs.

But perhaps the best thing to come of the introduction of medical marijuana is the countless number of patients it has aided. The drug has provided immeasurable relief to those suffering from both acute and chronic conditions, including various cancers, HIV/AIDS and glaucoma. Children also have been aided as well, with parents of pediatric epilepsy sufferers calling the drug a “miracle,” and reporting that non-psychoactive strains of it have allowed their children to live more normal lives.

It seems very likely that marijuana will one day be fully legalized in California too. In fact, efforts are already underway, and it could happen as soon as next year. It’s important that pro-marijuana advocates, in formulating workable legislation and regulatory guidelines, lean on what we have learned and what has been tried and tested in other states as well.

This will be critical also to bolstering the chances that federal authorities will maintain their distance as well.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
Few Problems With Cannabis for California, Oct. 26, 2013, By Adam Nagourney and Rick Lyman, The New York Times
More Blog Entries:
California Marijuana Dispensary Operator Faces Third Trial, Oct. 23, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog