Jun 25 2012

Pebbles Trippet comes out against California AB 2312

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Pebbles Trippet of the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board sent the following release 25 Jun 2012, courtesy of Donna Lambert:

From: Pebbles Trippet

To: Bill Gage <bill.gage@sen.ca.gov>

Cc: Info at Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board <info@mmmab.net>; Americans for Safe Access Safe Access <info@safeaccessnow.org>; Cailfornia NORML Gieringer <dale@canorml.org>; Drug Policy Fdtn Fdtn <dpfca@drugsense.org>; MCN ListServes <discussion@lists.mcn.org>; Save Cannabis Cannabis <savecannabis@a2c2.us>; Mickey Martin <mickey@tcompconsulting.com>; Robert Sutherland <woods@asis.com>; C Aanastad <christina@mendocinocountry.com>

Sent: Monday, June 25, 2012 4:31 AM

Subject: [Save Cannabis] AB 2312 opposition statement from Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board

To: Senators on the Businesses, Professions and Economic Development Committee (916) 324-0917 fax

From: Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board (MMMAB) / info@mmmab.net

Re: Medical Marijuana Regulation / California Assembly Bill 2312 under consideration June 25, 2012 by the Senate Committee.

Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board is opposed to Assembly Bill 2312 as currently written, especially in the following areas:

(1) COLLECTIVES OF SMALL HOME GARDENS OF PATIENTS AND CAREGIVERS, WHICH COMPRISE THE MAJORITY IN MENDOCINO COUNTY, ARE NOT CLEARLY PROTECTED IN AB 2312.

“Individual patients and caregivers” are clearly protected with exemptions from regulation, but collectives and cooperatives are not. It is a glaring omission.

11362.85 reads: “This article shall have no diminishing effect on the rights and protections currently granted to individual patients and primary caregivers.”

11362.86 re a medical marijuana facility reads:  “Individual patients and caregivers cultivating marijuana at their private residences for the patient’s use (singular patient) who do not sell or charge for the cultivation of marijuana are not considered medical marijuana facilities and are exempt from mandatory registration.”

“Definition…of medical marijuana facility means any facility, building, structure or location where medical marijuana is grown, processed, stored, manufactured or sold, other than a location or building in which a patient [singular] or a patient’s [singular] primary caregiver is growing medical marijuana for the patient’s own medical use and not for sale.”

~ Again and again, “individual patients” and “individual caregivers” are singled out as not losing any rights or protections.

The primary statutory authority is Prop 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which focuses on individual rights and never mentions collectives, but Senate Bill 420 does.

~ Senate Bill 420 (MMIC) in fact articulates “enhancing access through collective cooperative cultivation” as its central purpose.

~ Ambiguity in AB2312 about protections for “collective cooperative cultivation” shows diminished authority being given to Senate Bill 420, the other medical marijuana statute, which in 2003 enhanced Prop 215. SB420 protects collective association for enhanced access.

“Collective cooperative cultivation” deserves explicit protection beyond an “individual patient” growing for “her own medical use”.  It represents a paradigm shift away from individual solutions and individual profit toward common good.

Patients associating in collectives and cooperatives, not just as individuals, are a vital inseparable part of the compassionate use equation.

(2) REGULATORY EXEMPTIONS SECTION:  LANGUAGE BASED ON “INDIVIDUALS” BEING EXEMPT FROM MANDATORY REGISTRATION IS DEFICIENT AND MUST BE EXPANDED TO INCLUDE BACKYARD COLLECTIVES, PROTECTED BY SB420’S PURPOSE.

11362.86 reads: “Individual patients and caregivers cultivating marijuana at their private residences for the patient’s use who do not sell or charge for the cultivation are exempt from mandatory registration.”

This exemption for “individuals” should also be applied to backyard collectives which do not sell at the marketplace.

Exemption protections related only to “individual patients” and “individual caregivers” is way too narrow for a comprehensive regulatory scheme like AB2312.

There is a legal distinction between storefront collectives, which buy and sell, and backyard collectives which largely do not.

Regulatory exemptions must be expanded to include small backyard gardens, moms-and-pops and the like, associating collectively, who comprise the majority of non-commercial medical cannabis growers in rural areas. On the whole, they barely get by and cannot be accused of being “fronts for drug trafficking”, nor are they “profiteers”.

If they choose not to take their product to a store to be sold and regulated, they should not be subject to the regulatory process.

“Mandatory registration” is pointless and unworkable in rural areas for small home gardens of “two or more” people, who do not sell on the marketplace.

“Two or more” patients or caregivers is the SB420 definition of those who qualify for “collective cooperative cultivation” protection within the AG Guidelines of “closed loop” associations of qualified patients/caregivers–usually close family and friends–who collectively associate in order to gain access to medicine under conditions of safety, privacy and confidentiality.

The Attorney General Guidelines are reasonable and contain standards the patient community can live with. It follows that backyard non-commercial cultivation collectives, as opposed to storefront dispensing collectives, should not be subject to regulation, unless they go to a store to be regulated.

Storefront dispensaries are already regulated under the current chaotic patchwork scheme and will comprise the great bulk of the regulatory activity once the system is in place.

AB 2312 with multiple amendments to correct the flaws could simply focus on storefronts for regulation and taxation purposes, and give backyard grows regulatory exemptions, which are now reserved for “individual patients and individual caregivers”.

In summary, backyard collective gardens should not be subject to “mandatory registration”, unless they sell their product at a store, where regulation rightfully takes place, not at the gardensite.

Exempting mom-and-pop collectives as well as individuals can be seen as transitional in shifting from criminal prohibition to well-integrated regulation of medical marijuana, easing inevitable disruption of family farms and the fragile rural economy.

Most rural property is owned by mom-and-pop under a “tenants in common” land ownership arrangement, where two or more people co-own equal shares of land, similar to the “two or more” people that comprise a medical cannabis collective.

When SB420’s ID Card Program first passed, it was introduced with a few pilot counties testing the consequences of new regulations.

Such a measured approach as was taken with SB420 could be repeated with AB2312 by explicitly broadening who qualifies for exemptions.

In a “producer county” where 2/3 of the rural economy is dependent on marijuana, we need to go forward based on the good of the whole community… mindful not to tear the fabric of family farms or disable the county’s ultimate economic engine.

(3) THERE SHOULD BE A NO-BAN CLAUSE, OUTLAWING THE BANNING OF “COLLECTIVE COOPERATIVE CULTIVATION” (SB 420).

An explicit ban against bans would fill the leadership void in state law that allows local jurisdictions to deny access to medicine.

State law (SB420/Medical Marijuana Program Act) authorizes “collective cooperative cultivation projects” in 11362.775.  But so many municipalities don’t seem to grasp that prohibition of marijuana for medical purposes has ended, both for individual patients and collectives of patients, and have no solutions except to continue banning and punishing.  Local governments need to be enjoined from imposing their brand of prohibition on their constituents.

The California Supreme Court is now reviewing several cases of municipalities which have banned collective associations.

It is an increasingly common belief that the Supremes will uphold the right of patients to associate collectively in those cases, since association is a federally protected constitutional right and ‘collective cooperative cultivation’ is protected by state law (SB420).

An explicit no-ban clause would astutely pave the way for what will likely be the Supreme Court ruling, anticipated next year.

The Supreme Court has proven itself capable of understanding the gravity of the volatile situation we are in — issuing principled rulings in Kelly and Mower, among others.

It would alleviate a lot of grief and insecurity on the part of hundreds of thousands of patients and their families and communities, all of whom are affected by the crazy chaotic quilt of contradictory and arbitrary marijuana laws now in place.

The lack of a no-ban clause will incur the wrath of the cannabis patient and provider community because we find it intolerable to continue to live with local bans.

Our community is further being destroyed by the Feds, without regard to state law, as they up the ante in a full blast assault on storefront patient providers.

The California Legislature is obliged to lead by adopting legislation that will protect patients and providers under state law.

Instead the Senate authors of AB2312 are going in the other direction.

(4) BANNING DISPENSARIES MUST REQUIRE A VOTE OF THE PEOPLE

On the eve of the June 25 hearing, Senate authors have significantly altered 2312 language to deprive residents of the right to vote in local elections on bans in their jurisdictions.

Now the language reads: “A city or county with a population of at least 50,000 may prohibit dispensaries…or limit the number…if an ordinance or regulation authorizing that restriction has been lawfully enacted.”  They replaced the language requiring a vote of the people.

Removing the right to a vote without a vote authorizing that is egregiously wrong, undemocratic, and unconstitutional.

AB 2312 looks increasingly unsalvageable with amendments. Patients’ broad interests are not protected by this legislation.

(5) WE ARE OPPOSED TO IMPOSING NEW CRIMINAL PENALTIES for being out of compliance with the proposed new restrictions, many of which violate the spirit and intent of Prop 215, which cannot be legislatively restricted except by a vote of the people.

MMMAB urges a No vote on AB2312. It will not work without the support of the cannabis patient community which has vanished, as the law in numerous ways has been tarnished with undemocratic intolerable impermissible modifications.

 

Pebbles Trippet

Secretary and co-founder
Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board

6/25/12

 


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