California Finally Moves To Regulate Legal Marijuana

The Golden State was the first to legalize medical marijuana, but was also the first of several states to drag its feet on how to regulate growing and selling the now-legal medicine. Now, 20 years after the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, the state legislature has passed several bills that establish “seed to sale” systems. Proponents of medical marijuana are wasting little time in urging Gov. Brown to sign the bills into law, noting that he did help draft the regulations.
 
The Los Angles Times has a fine editorial asking the gov to not only sign the bills, but take an active role in making sure they are implemented. The LAT says that previous efforts have “… provided little guidance on how the state could help ailing patients get the drug — or how to keep it out of the hands of those who weren’t entitled to it. Legislators repeatedly failed to develop rules, so cities and counties adopted a patchwork of policies, which triggered a series of lawsuits and judgments that created a confusing mess for patients, law enforcement, cannabis growers and dispensary operators.”
 
Read the newspaper’s argument, signed by “the editorial board,” here: Gov. Brown, sign the medical marijuana bills

New Federal Law Targets Civil Pot-Forfeiture Issues

For anyone who noted the civil forfeiture issues raised by HBO’s John Oliver (and if you have not, stop whatever you’re doing and watch it now), there’s news of a bill that would target the marijuana aspects of the practice, cutting off some funding for the DEA.
 
On a Forbes Magazine “recommended blog,” Nick Sibilla of the Institute for Justice reports that a bipartisan bill in Congress “… would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from using federal forfeiture funds to pay for its Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program. Additionally, the bill would ban transferring property to federal, state or local agencies if that property ‘is used for any purpose pertaining to’ the DEA’s marijuana eradication program.”
 
The blog adds some context: “Last year, the program was responsible for over 6,300 arrests, eradicating over 4.3 million marijuana plants and seizing $27.3 million in assets. More than half of all plants destroyed were in California, which also accounted for over one-third of seized assets and nearly 40 percent of the arrests.”

Legal Weed Still Brings Plenty Of Court Action

As criminal actions against marijuana users and growers diminish in “legal” states like Colorado and Washington and in more than 30 “medical marijuana” states like California, there has been a new crop of civil litigation. For example, in Riverside County, California the county is facing litigation over a new law that authorities said is a “crackdown the proliferation of large-scale, for-profit marijuana farms” in their communities.
 
Those operations are usually cooperatives, where many people will combine their rights to create a larger operation. More than a dozen lawsuits are underway to sort out regulatory questions. But medical pot providers say the civil actions amount to another way to shut them down. Read about that in The Riverside Enterprise newspaper.
 
Up in Washington state, a prosecutor in King County named Dan Satterberg argues that medical pot shops have been selling marijuana illegally for years and that will end soon after he serves lawsuits to 15 collectives in unincorporated parts of the county in the coming days. For years, the NW Cannabis Collective catered to its clients seeking medicine for pain and other conditions.
 
NW Cannabis CEO Michael Keysor said, “Most of these patients have been given up on by doctors. They have no answers for them.” This month, he received a letter from authorities telling him to shut down or be sued. He says a forced closure will kill his business for good. Again, the authorities are using civil leverage to advance their goals, and you can find Channel 13 TV coverage of that situation here.

Medical Cannabis Parents Getting Caught Up with Child Endangerment Charges

As cannabis laws shift at a rapid clip across the country, medical cannabis patients seem to be unexpectedly caught in a web of child protective services. Such was the case for Shawnee Anderson according to Al Jazeera America. An argument over a dirty diaper turned into a loud couple’s squabble, prompting a neighbor to call the police. The fight proved to be the least of their worries as police found remnants of their medical cannabis. The couple spent five days in jail and have been fighting while their son was placed in foster care for nearly two weeks.

This story is not unusual for parents in the 23 states where medical cannabis is legal. While it is legal for medical purposes, civil issues like family law are proving tricky. The article notes that “Meanwhile, low-income families of color are more likely to face neglect charges involving pot, as they tend to live in more heavily policed neighborhoods and give birth in hospitals that may be more likely to conduct drug testing on newborns.”

As we have reported before, the lack of Civil Gideon means there is no requirement that the government provide legal services for people who cannot afford them. This puts low-income families at a significant disadvantage when going up against state child advocates well-versed in the court system. Without legal counsel, parents may lose custody of their children simply for legally consuming a drug.

See more on the story here, “Parents face child abuse investigations over pot use.

We also recommend following the national story on Shona Banda who is fighting for custody of her son, and against felony charges that could put her in jail for 3 decades. See “This Mom Faces Prison For Medical Marijuana.

New Civil Actions Coming For Marijuana Water Use

As reported 8/29/15 in the Sacromento Bee, "California regulators undertake unique experiment to govern water use for marijuana. Video by Paul Kitagaki Jr."

As reported 8/29/15 in the Sacromento Bee, “California regulators undertake unique experiment to govern water use for marijuana. Video by Paul Kitagaki Jr.”

You probably saw this coming: The state of California is using civil lawsuits to make environmental cases against legal marijuana growers, especially when it come to water use during the state’s history making drought.
 
Many growers claim this is just sour grapes over the legalization of some uses of marijuana, while other growers are embracing the regulation. It makes for interesting cop stories, especially for those trying to understand how police raids are part of civil litigation. And you can catch up on the via The Sacramento Bee story here:California takes new approach on water regulation for pot farms