Is California AG Burning The Medical Marijuana Community?

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Kamala_Harris Oakland City Hall.jpeg
Photo: The Mad Professah Lectures
California Attorney General Kamala Harris appears to be taking orders from law enforcement in drawing up the state’s new medical marijuana guidelines

​In her bid to defeat Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley for the job of California’s top cop, then-San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris got the support of the state’s medical marijuana community — not so much because she was great, but because Cooley royally sucks ass.

In a rare show of unity (unlike what happened with pot legalization initiative Prop 19), the state’s marijuana activists seemed to all agree on an “Anybody But Cooley” campaign. That effort may well have been the difference between the two candidates last fall, as less than 80,000 votes separated the victorious Harris from Cooley. There are 750,000 medical marijuana patients in California.
But, as pointed out by Chris Roberts at LA Weekly, if Harris feels any gratitude for the support of the medical marijuana community, she’s doing a good job of hiding it.


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Photo: South Lake Tahoe Police Dept.

​Attorney Generals Harris’s “discussion draft” guidelines on medical marijuana — first published nationally by Toke of the Town on July 22 — are “horrible” for the state’s patients, according to some advocates, reports Joshua Sabatini at the SF Examiner.
It’s no wonder the guidelines are so bad; they were likely written by law enforcement, reports the Weekly.
The new guidelines are still in draft form, with no date yet set for their official release. Shum Preston, Harris’s spokesperson, would only say that the AG’s office “is reviewing case law on the topic [of medical marijuana]and is launching a discussion with stakeholders.”
According to patients, there are three big problems with the draft guidelines:
 A provision that a patient can only be a member of one collective at a time — in effect restricting patients to buying from only one dispensary — is untenable and impractical. “That doesn’t work,” said Shona Gochenaur, executive director of the Axis of Love medical marijuana activist group. She likened it to being forced to shop at one specific grocery store.
• The guidelines give too much leeway to law enforcement, which would be granted the power to decide, on the spot, whether or not an individual is a medical marijuana patient if they aren’t carrying a medical marijuana ID — which is supposed to be voluntary. “Thats a violation of Proposition 215 … No police officer should have the right to determine if someone has a medical condition or not,” said activist Mike Aldrich. “They’re not doctors.”
• Growers would be restricted to distributing medicine to one collective only. This could favor large-scale operations over smaller groups.
Attorney General Harris is reportedly watching what happens with several cases making their way through the courts before finalizing the guidelines, which are meant to be an advisory document, and are not the rule of law.
“It’s very likely Harris is under pressure from law enforcement groups — whose support she needs, as a law enforcement officer herself — to edit [former AG now Governor Jerry]Brown’s version of the guidelines,” the LA Weekly speculates.
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