In The Weeds

Valentia Piccinini is a Pebble Beach-based philanthropist who uses medical cannabis to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Her desire to open a dispensary in Monterey has been met by the City Council mostly with silence and apathy.

10. Legalization is coming. Some version of cannabis legalization will appear on the November 2016 ballot, a monster voting year due to the presidential election. Voters may be faced with a version of what’s known as the Correa bill (sponsored by state Sen. Lou Correa; the bill died last year in the Assembly Appropriations Committee). Or they could vote on the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative 2016, or the Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act of 2016. CCHI’s 2014 version would have legalized use and possession of cannabis grown for personal consumption. It died for lack of enough signatures. MCLR’s 2014 version included taxation and regulation. Correa’s bill received backing from the California League of Cities and law enforcement; it’s considered the strictest of the three.

9. In Monterey County, most cities are still digging in their heels in prohibiting dispensaries and other pot businesses. Most cities have zoning laws to keep medical pot dispensaries from opening. Pebble Beach philanthropist and multiple sclerosis patient Valentia Piccinini has tried, to no avail, to get approval for a dispensary in the city of Monterey. City Manager Mike McCarthy says her efforts, which began last year, haven’t moved forward because no council member has put it on the agenda yet.

8. Despite the zoning, many cities are still getting inquiries from cannabis businesses. In Seaside, which has an ordinance against dispensaries, City Manager John Dunn received a call in late February from a man wanting to open a cannabis-consultation service. Salinas, which also has an ordinance, just received an inquiry from a guy with a San Francisco area code wanting to open a wholesale bakery, according to the Weekly’s Public Record Act request.

7. Things have slowed down for the one city poised to open a dispensary. Del Rey Oaks may still become become the first city in the county to allow a dispensary to open. Last October, the City Council voted to approve an ordinance regulating dispensaries. Lonna Lewis-Blodgett and Bob Blodgett, hoteliers in Santa Cruz County, intend to open a dispensary at 800 Portola Drive. It was, in fact, supposed to have opened already. DRO Mayor Jerry Edelen reports construction issues have pushed back the timeline a bit, but it should be opening in the next month.

6. Cannabis businesses are also looking to South County. Salinas-based attorney Aaron Johnson says the city of Greenfield has agendized discussion of an ordinance that would include not only dispensaries, but grows as well. Johnson, meanwhile, was planning to take Mayor John Huerta on a tour of some of San Francisco Bay Area’s best-run dispensaries as an example of what could be.

5. Despite ordinances, some citizens’ groups are thinking about how cannabis can benefit cities. The conservative Salinas Taxpayers Association thinks local policy-makers are considering laws that would allow and tax dispensaries in Salinas. The taxpayers’ group is looking at the possibility as a huge moneymaker for the city, and they’re holding a forum on it, June 8, location to be determined. STA representative Rick Giffin says if the city regulates and taxes pot now, the revenue will stay in the city.

4. Ag policymakers also are thinking about cannabis, at least on a preliminary level. Norm Groot, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau, says, “We are watching this, yes, but no formal effort has been taken at this time. This is an ongoing discussion and at some point, we will determine how best to approach this ‘new’ sector of ag, if legitimized.”

3. Looking at how to capture revenue now is a smart bet for later. Market research by the ArcView Group puts the cannabis marketplace right now at $1.7 billion and maybe as much as $2.7 billion in the U.S., with California comprising 49 percent of the market. That’s pre-full legalization.

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2. Legalization is on the minds of many in Congress. Three senators (Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey) in March introduced a bill that would remove federal prohibitions on medical marijuana use in states like California, where it’s already legal. That means, for example, doctors at Veterans Affairs clinics would be able to prescribe medical cannabis.

1. U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, was on top of this long before his colleagues in the senate. Last June, Farr and Dana Rohrabacher, R – Huntington Beach, passed an amendment to the 2015 Commerce, Justice & Science appropriations bill preventing the Department of Justice from using its funds to arrest and prosecute medical marijuana patients or distributors acting in compliance with state law.

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated that State Attorney General Kamala Harris supports the Marijuana Control Legalization and Revenue Act. Harris' Press Secretary Kristin Ford says Harris has not taken a position on the current act or an earlier version.)

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(5) comments

Mitchell Colbert

I find it interesting that you only mention three out of the four bills vying to be on the ballot in 2016.

You neglected to mention ReformCA's Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR). The CCPR is a coalition of NORML, the NAACP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the United Food and Commercial Workers union, Americans for Safe Access, and more. This is the same coalition I worked to help build back in 2010, as a regional director for the Proposition 19 for Monterey/Santa Cruz/Santa Clara counties. We have stuck together for five years and are still united for reform in California.

ms carmen

Just an FYI that the city of San Diego has finally approved several legal dispensaries within the city limits. The first one, A Green Alternative, officially opens today. Previously the county of SD only allowed one legal dispensary, Outliers, just outside of El Cajon.

Dr Rose

I was honored to have Mary Duan ask me What in any of our coverage do you find sensational?

The only consideration of cannabis is of its use recreationally. Hemp was used for all kinds of materials, Henry Ford made the internal combustion engine to run on fuel made from hemp. The US government put out a bulletin noting that 4 acres of trees is bested by one acre of hemp for paper. Popular Science magazine published an article that proclaimed hemp as a billion dollar crop just before William Randall Hearst did his campaign to make a substance no one had ever heard of a frightening dangerous thing. Marihuanna was said to cause Mexicans and Negroes to become insolent and violent. It was made illegal without anyone in the government knowing that it was the hemp plant that was at issue. That hysteria and fear of the darker peoples was at the heart of the prohibition of a plant that had only just become viable as a crop for farmers to plant. The technology to harvest the hemp had been invented so one did not need slaves to work a hemp field any more. The hemp harvester and hemp decorticator would have made that crop capable of competing against the wood pulp paper that Hearst planned on using for his newspapers since he had arranged to clear cut National Forests by leasing the wood at $1 per acre. The oil people forced Ford to convert his engine to use fossil fuel. Dupont wanted to sell nylon rope. It was in the interests of all these magnates of industry to put down the hemp crop that would have made farmers like the oil sheiks...producers of fuel not only food. This information has not been broadcast, but concerns about people getting high, when the far more damaging alcohol is freely used, makes this story sensationalist because it is such a minor part of the hemp story and yet is still the biggest story being told. And it is in the main a lie.

Dr Rose

The emphasis on the sensationalist aspects of cannabis/hemp because it has an effect on consciousness betrays the deep ignorance for what was really behind making this plant illegal. This plant is the only plant with the capacity to make fuel that runs our cars and to make paper without destroying trees and so many more things that the farmer would be able to produce for the civilization we enjoy. Furthermore, when this plant is used, it does not cause the environmental disaster that using fossil fuels and cutting down forests do cause. We have legal alcohol that is a poison that can kill and causes violence, and we have an herb that people can use to heal cancer and that they can relax with that never kills and never causes the violence that something that poisons makes happen in the psyche of many who imbibe. So this emphasis and concern about people getting high harks back to the hysteria that was invoked to make it illegal for the benefit of those who profit still from this prohibition. The only solution to repair the damage that has been done and to encourage farmers to again grow this biomass crop is for people to know about and to sign the initiative of the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative CCHI 2016 so that it can be voted into law.

Michael J

Thanks for mentioning the California Cannabis Hemp Initiatiative (CCHI 2016)! Please watch this 15 minute video for more on the subject of total RELEGALIZATION of the Cannabis Hemp plant:
Please check out our website for more updates and to read the text of CCHI 2016!

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