Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 43 / 27 October 2016

Letters to the Editor

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Opposes Prop 64

The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 is the Magna Carta of the medical marijuana community. It is a living document only nine brief paragraphs in length. Know its provisions to understand how Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, hijacks it. The CUA:

Ÿ Recognizes the marijuana plant as providing medicinal relief for serious illnesses such as the several which it lists, "... or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief;"

Ÿ legalizes personal use of marijuana as medicine by a person who obtains a doctor's recommendation, thus recognizing medical marijuana (MMJ) doctor-patient relationship;

Ÿ gives patients or caregivers the right to cultivate their own medicine for personal use and to have safe access to medicine when they cannot cultivate; and

Ÿ does not give the legislature authority to amend it.

Under California constitutional law, if a ballot initiative does not give express permission to the Legislature to change it, the Legislature cannot do so by mere statute. (The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, passed by the Legislature, is a bundle of statutes.) The California constitution [Art.2 Sec.10(c)] requires the Legislature to put the proposed changes in another initiative to be voted on by the electors in another election. Enter AUMA, the hostile take-over!

AUMA expands the CUA's basic definition of marijuana from useful medicine to recreational drug. It treats both usages of marijuana equally, but they are inherently unequal. Equating medicine with recreation trivializes medicine and ignores the harm in drugging for recreation.

AUMA creates a new doctor's recommendation, overriding the CUA's (Proposed HSC Section 11362.712). AUMA redefines the MMJ doctor-patient relationship by imposing additional diagnostic burdens on the physician. AUMA requires all patients to possess the new recommendation by 2018 and requires it for issuance of the state MMP ID card. The card becomes mandatory for patient exemption from the 15 percent excise tax on MMJ retail sales.

AUMA gives initiative-statute status to MMRSA by incorporating it into AUMA (proposed BPC Section 26010). Medical and recreational marijuana jurisdictions are consolidated into one regulatory system. This is crucial. Whatever court challenges might be made against MMRSA's unfriendly, unauthorized changes to the CUA – limiting patients' cultivation rights to six plants, for example – become moot if AUMA wins in November.

AUMA overrides CUA rights and re-issues them as privileges that can be revoked by the Legislature, cities, and counties. CUA patients can grow as many plants as their medical treatment reasonably requires. AUMA/MMRSA gives patients and partygoers identical grow privileges, not rights, of no more than six plants. Already, 55 percent of the state's 482 cities and 38 percent of its 58 counties have enacted total or partial bans. So much for ending prohibition.

Effective 2018, MMRSA/AUMA prohibits grower-patient collectives over five members, replaces not-for-profit dispensaries with profit-based retail outlets. Local permits are prerequisite to obtaining state licenses for everything from field to storefront. These costs, plus production taxes based on weight, the 15 percent excise tax and the ordinary sales tax, including local add-ons, along with retailers' profit margin, will balloon the prices of legal pot. Production controls, and AUMA's prohibition of price competition, will maintain high prices, driving low-income consumers back into illicit markets.

AUMA glamorizes marijuana use. It was written by the industry, deliberately rejecting California's controls on tobacco and alcohol, making it easier for people under 21 to buy marijuana than alcohol or tobacco.

After the first five years, large-scale licenses are opened to agribusiness. The California residency requirement for participating is satisfied with a 20 percent interest; the other 80 percent can be out of state, including ex-felons.

No AUMA revenues go to the general fund to defray the public health costs of legalization. All the money goes to the Bureau of Marijuana Control for Administration (4 percent), Enforcement (almost 60 percent), and four broad program areas. These are all contract-driven.

AUMA hands the governor a gigantic slush fund. AUMA is a dope-pusher, influence-peddler, and buyer of politicians. Vote no on Prop 64.


Ron Deziel

San Pablo, California


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