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Dear Jon: Pot dispensaries largely unregulated at the state level

By Jon K. Brent, Anchor, jonkbrent@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Apr 09 2014 04:36:12 PM CDT
Dear Jon pot dispensaries

State regulation of the marijuana dispensary business may be coming.

More marijuana dispensaries are popping up on the Central Coast and the big question has been: Who will regulate this growing business?  James wrote to me and asked, “Dear Jon, Who's bright idea was it to approve pot shops in California?” That “bright idea” came from voters almost 18 years ago.

In 1996 California voters approved marijuana for medicinal use with Proposition 215. Then in 2003 a new law required medicinal users in California to carry a card. What has caused problems is that federal law maintains that pot possession for any use is a serious crime and Proposition 215 didn't spell out who would regulate medicinal pot in California. So up sprang dispensaries with largely no regulation and many owners grappling with the law.

It's been left to cities and counties to decide whether they'll allow dispensaries in their communities in California. Monterey and Santa Cruz counties are allowing dispensaries at this time, but the City of Hollister in San Benito County has banned them.

Those in favor of medicinal pot say it's a viable business and provides a service for those users that carry a card and have a prescription for use. Those against say having dispensaries create a safety issue because cultivation ends up on properties, in garages and homes in neighborhoods with little or no regulation.   

Just this past weekend a suspected illegal pot grow was busted in a Salinas neighborhood. Police say that grow was stealing electricity, but police will admit not every grow is that easy to determine if the law is being broken.

Senate Bill 1262 could change the landscape. The proposal is the brainchild of the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California cities. The bill would require the state Department of Public Health to license dispensaries and cultivation sites. And a primary care doctor or a specialist would have to prescribe the pot.

Stay tuned on this story.

If you have question, email me at DearJon@KIONRightNow.com or message me on Facebook at “Jon K Brent KION” or Twitter at “DearJonKBrent.”