by David Downs
Senate Bill 439, which would better protect medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives in California, cleared the Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday 5 to 1. The bill's sponsor, Senate Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg, states that it's a step toward regulating medical marijuana statewide.
Right now, medical cannabis patients who follow the rules can still be raided, arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned in anti-MMJ counties like San Diego and Los Angeles. So there's little incentive to follow the rules when they don't protect you. As written, SB 439 would provide legal immunity to collectives, cooperatives and dispensaries who follow the Attorney General's guidelines on medical marijuana.
SB 439 is opposed by the California Narcotic Officers' Association and the lobby for California's Police Chiefs — the same groups that say the existing medical marijuana system is being abused. (They also say marijuana is not a medicine, in defiance of three out of four doctors polled by the New England Journal of Medicine.)
Watch the Assembly Public Safety Committee video below. At the five-minute mark, Sen. Steinberg takes the double-talking cop lobby to task.
“The blight and the abuse you rightfully complain about is occurring in the absence of state regulation. We do nothing and the very situation which you rightfully complain about continues,” Steinberg states. “Nothing changes if we don't pass a bill.”
SB 439 is in the hands of the Assembly Health Committee now.