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A planned ballot initiative intended for the elections this November asks a vital question which dominates the medical marijuana industry in California: Can stricter state regulation prevent the federal government from shutting it down?
Medical marijuana growers, dispensaries and a powerful local union are supporting an initiative which would regulate the $1.5 billion pot trade in California. They expect to raise $2 million from drug policy groups and marijuana businesses in order for it to get into the November ballot. A move to gather the needed half-million valid voter signatures is expected to start this week after Attorney General Kamala Harris finishes a legal brief and Secretary of State Debra Bowen certifies the petitions.
Local governments typically govern over the medical marijuana economy, oftentimes with conflicting rules. The proposed ballot initiative, dubbed the “Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, would put the state in charge.
A medical marijuana enforcement bureau would be established in the Department of Consumer Affairs. A commission, with majority of the members coming from the medical pot community, would supervise the enforcement bureau, grant license to dispensaries and marijuana growers, as well as set the standards for marijuana trade.
This effort is actually a political compromise by different factions.
The “Emerald Growers Association, from the Mendocino and Humboldt counties supported the move after the initiative backers discarded a model which is based on the Colorado dispensary-run pot growing centers. The group wanted some assurances that urban indoor growers would not overshadow rural outdoor pot cultivators in the market.
The effort also includes the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5 and the Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access.