California Bill Would License Medical Pot Dispensaries but Limit Patient Access


In an about-face, two California organizations who previously opposed any state-level efforts to regulate medical marijuana are now backing a bill that would create the basis of state licensing and regulation while limiting doctors who can prescribe pot. According to the Fresno Bee, SB 1262 has the backing of  the League of California Cities and the California Police Chiefs Association. And while their support of any marijuana measure is progress, this bill is not likely to gain support of marijuana advocacy groups.

The League of California Cities and the California Police Chiefs Association previously opposed all regulatory legislation regarding medical cannabis. They saw any state regulation as laying the groundwork for all-out legalization and potentially limiting the powers of municipalities to regulate the medical marijuana trade within their own limits. This new bill protects that power, but goes further.

SB 1262, proposed by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), would put the state’s Department of Public Health in charge of granting state licenses to marijuana dispensaries and growers with the input of local governments. But the bill would also limit how patients get access to their medication.

The bill would require patients to go through their primary care doctor, or someone their  primary physician refers them to in order to get their prescription. There are several problems here.

  • First, not all primary medical providers accept marijuana as the healing plant it has proven to be. These primary care physicians simply won’t recommend pot no matter how valid a patient’s complaints are.
  • Second, not everyone has a primary care doctor. For the likely hundreds of thousands of Californians without medical insurance (and some with), a primary physician simply isn’t a reality. These people may visit urgent cares for any medical issues or they may rely on natural healing methods as opposed to the Big Pharma-funded conventional medical industry.
  • Finally, not all patients want their primary care doctor (who may be associated with their employer’s health insurance or even their family doctor) knowing they take marijuana. Like it or not, marijuana use still carries a stigma.

The League of California Cities and the California Police Chiefs Association, and many others, realize that legalization is going to happen in California. They realize they had better get some regulations in place beforehand, and that is why they are rethinking their previous blanket opposition to medical pot policies.

Some advocacy groups are happy to see them rethinking their stubborn position, but they shouldn’t be blinded by the about-face. Instead, this bill would limit access to medicine for Californians who may very well need any one of the many benefits of medical marijuana.