May 4, 2011 – CalNORML director Dale Gieringer is scheduled to testify today in Sacramento at a Senate Governance and Finance Committee hearing on SB 626 (Calderon), to establish a BOE study on how to regulate medical cannabis.
“California badly needs a comprehensive system to regulate the distribution, sale, production, transportation, and testing of medical cannabis,” says a letter from CalNORML to the committee chair Lois Wolk. “Current state laws on sales, transportation and distribution of medical marijuana, as set forth in HSC 11362.7 – 11362.765 and the Attorney General’s Guidelines, are highly unclear and ambiguous. This has resulted in widespread confusion and hundreds of lawsuits. It would be advantageous to everyone concerned – medical marijuana providers, patients, law enforcement and courts – to establish clear regulations as to what is legal and what is not.
“The state of Colorado passed a bill establishing a state licensing system for medical marijuana businesses last year. The state has already collected over $7 million in license fees from 2.059 applicants in the start-up phase of the program. A similar approach could be adopted to California, with necessary allowances for certain differences between the two states.
“Medical marijuana has become a flourishing industry in California. Three years ago, we testified to the Board of Equalization that revenues from retail sales of medical marijuana were on the order of $870 million -$ 2 billion per year. Due to the growing user population, we have now revised our estimates upwards to some $1.75 to $2.60 billion – enough to raise some $160 – $240 million in sales taxes. California needs to act to assure proper oversight and regulation of the market, consistent with Proposition 215’s mandate to establish a “safe and affordable” distribution system for medical marijuana.
“SB 626 would afford a useful first step in this direction. We advise the Senate to give it favorable consideration.”