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Desert Sun: DHS Go Slowly on Medical Marijuana

By   /   May 9, 2014  /   Comments Off

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Desert Sun Editorial Board-Desert Hot Springs is wise to go slow in its pursuit of medical marijuana dispensaries. Go very slow.

It’s a complicated venture, but it does have the potential to provide revenue to a city desperately in need — from sales tax and, if two-thirds of voters approve, a fee on the dispensaries similar to the one approved by Palm Springs voters last year. The move should not be made out of desperation, however. The city must be confident that it has the resources to monitor dispensaries.

PDFs: AB 1894 | Analysis | AB 1262 | Analysis

Desert Hot Springs would join Palm Springs as the only cities in Riverside County to permit medical marijuana dispensaries.

With the passage of the Compassionate Care Act of 1996, California became the first state in the nation to allow medical marijuana. Today, 20 states and the District of Columbia allow it. Washington and Colorado now allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

Besides the revenue potential, Desert Hot Springs should consider it for the convenience of patients who genuinely need pain relief. Transportation is a major issue for many of the seniors who need medical marijuana. Compassion should begin at home.

DHS Police Chief Dan Bressler said he would support exploring the idea if the regulations proposed in Senate Bill 1262 become law. Introduced by Sen. Lou Correa, a Democrat from Santa Ana, the bill was drafted by the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities.

The bill aims to treat medical marijuana more like medicine. It would provide serious oversight to the multibillion-dollar industry

for the first time. It proposed to require the state Department of Public Health to license cultivation sites and dispensaries.

The Senate Health Committee approved the bill last week, but only after dropping the Department of Public Health as the controlling agency. Assembly Bill 1894, introduced last year, proposes putting the Alcoholic Beverages Commission in charge of regulations. Ideally, regulations would be controlled by the Food and Drug Administration, but the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 controlled substance. That would happen only if Congress acts. Another controversial part of SB 1262 would control who could prescribe medical marijuana. It proposes that only a primary-care physician or a specialist could do so. Doctors would need a certificate in substance abuse training.

The bill also would require quality assurance programs to test for bacteria, pesticides or mold — an element that has been introduced in Palm Springs. It’s good that the debate is under way. The impression that almost anyone can get a medical marijuana card — even to cure insomnia — gives the business a bad reputation. For the rest of this editorial>link

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