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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: Round 2 In Medical Marijuana Fight
Title:US CA: Round 2 In Medical Marijuana Fight
Published On:2012-01-26
Source:Capitol Weekly (Sacramento, CA)
Fetched On:2012-01-28 06:01:24
ROUND 2 IN MEDICAL MARIJUANA FIGHT

Backers of an initiative to legalize and regulate medical marijuana
dispensaries - and even head off a federal crackdown - are putting
together an initiative targeting the November ballot, the second time
in as many years that cannabis advocates have asked the electorate to
decide weed-linked issues.

"There isn't a uniform regulation or structure or rule, so the
question is, 'How do we do this in a way that tightens regulations
over medical marijuana?'" said Roger Salazar, a political strategist
for the campaign, called Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana.

"For a long time, the federal government was taking a hands-off
approach to medical marijuana. If they see that California is
tightening up its controls and regulations, they may see that
California has figured out a way to regulate it."

The campaign committee was formed last week and proponents have filed
the measure's language with the state attorney general's office.
Backers include the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which
hopes to organize dispensary workers, and the California Cannabis
Association, which represents dispensary operators, patient-growers,
advocates and others within the industry.

The proposed initiative comes amid a federal crackdown on major
marijuana growers and dispensaries, in which federal prosecutors
across California are forcing shutdowns of the operations. The
prosecutors say California's medical marijuana industry violates
federal law as well as state law, which bars for-profit sales.

The state law stems from Proposition 15, which voters approved in
1996, which allows personal marijuana use with a doctor's
prescription.

The latest proposal would create a state office called the Bureau of
Medical Marijuana Enforcement as part of the state Consumer Affairs
Department. The bureau's functions would include targeting the use of
fraudulent marijuana prescriptions from doctors.

The plan includes a 2.5 percent statewide marijuana sales tax, and a
provision allowing local governments to impose additional taxes on
their own. Just how much money that would be raised is uncertain. A
fiscal analysis of the Proposition 19, the marijuana-legalization
initiative that voters rejected two years ago, estimated that a 10
percent statewide tax on marijuana would raise about $1.4 billion annually.

The medical marijuana proposal isn't the only marijuana-related
measure aimed at the ballot.

Already cleared for circulation is a far broader proposal to
decriminalize marijuana use, cultivation and distribution. The
measure, which includes support from Proposition 19's backers, calls
for the immediate release of state or local prisoners serving time for
nonviolent marijuana offenses, requires their criminal records
relating to the offenses be expunged and authorizes the Legislature to
approve laws to license, tax and regulate marijuana operations. It
also bars California from enforcing federal marijuana laws.
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