California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes when voters passed the landmark Proposition 215 in 1996. But since then, the state has failed to establish uniform regulations to govern the industry, leaving the implementation of a vague medical cannabis law to local municipalities instead.
Some cities, like Oakland and San Francisco, have enacted clear-cut rules that dictate where dispensaries can operate and levy fees that generate revenue for local government. Other places, like Los Angeles and San Diego, remain largely unregulated, with very little control over the number of dispensaries or the criteria for doctor recommendations.
Since marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, the lack of a statewide standard has left California vulnerable to crackdowns.
So California is looking to tighten their regulations so the legal side of medical marijuana is clear and more cut and dry. That makes good sense, seemingly.
Recent polls have suggested a majority of Californians support legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. A national drug reform coalition, backed by Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom, plans to put a legalization initiative on the state’s 2016 ballot.
In the meantime, advocates believe strict statewide rules are a necessary next step. “We need to show that California has the ability to regulate marijuana,” Angell said. “This would help further demonstrate how tax revenue can be generated and put into needed programs.”