California Senator John Vasconcellos, acting upon the recommendations of a medical marijuana task force commissioned by Attorney General Bill Lockyer, recently released Senate Bill 848 (SB 848), a bill that seeks to enact laws governing the implementation of Proposition 215.
Following is a critique of the proposal based on the perspective of the law’s primary author, Dennis Peron, and other medical marijuana activists who oppose SB 848 either all or in part. ?
* Requires State Department of Health Services and county welfare departments to issue medical marijuana cards after determining if patients qualify for them.
This creates layers of bureaucracy to achieve what voters already achieved. 215 says that anybody who has an oral or written recommendation for cannabis from a doctor is not to be subject to prosecution or sanction. Who needs a government agency to tell them that? ? ?
*Limits qualified physicians to those licensed by state of California.
Patients treated by doctors outside California will be excluded by SB 848. ?
*If you voluntarily register as a patient, you MIGHT not be arrested.
If you dont voluntarily register, the only thing 215 does for you is provide affirmative defense to be used at trial. Based on faulty interpretation of 215, this would subject sick and dying people to arrest, incarceration, expense, prosecution.
*Requires written physician documentation.
215 specifies written or oral recommendations are acceptable. ? ?
*Prohibits cannabis cultivation-distribution clubs from issuing applications for cards, maintaining card records, or issuing cards- government agencies must do it.
Many patients do not trust government agencies. They do trust cannabis cultivation-distribution clubs. ?
*Government determines how much medical pot is allowable.
Cannabis use amounts should be determined by patients and their doctors, not by government officials. ? ?
*Fee for card; must provide name, address, social security number, photos, birth certificates, and other information for patients and for primary caregivers.
Sick and dying people cannot afford bureaucracy. Intrusion into privacy. Violates confidentiality.
*Government officials will contact parents of applicants under 18.
Treats minors as chattel. Inserts parents into private medical decisions.
*Government agencies will contact physicians and discuss patient medical records, and also investigate physician credentials.
Cannabis-recommending physicians have been harmed by government agencies in California. Will make it easier for government to know which physicians are recommending marijuana.
*Applicant who does not provide all required information or materials for card must provide missing info within 30 days, or application denied.
Sick and dying people aren’t always able to process government forms or meet deadlines. ? ?
*ID card lists address of patient/primary caregiver.
?Law enforcement can use address to obtain search warrants and perform investigations. ? ?
*Cards must be renewed yearly.
?Many patients have chronic conditions that are permanent or terminal and do not benefit from having to endure a yearly bureaucratic review of their medical needs. ? ?
*Government agencies have records of applications and investigation of application particulars.
?Even people whose apps are turned down are logged into government computers.
*Cardholders must notify health dept within seven day if they move, change physicians, change caregivers.
Sick and dying people often have a hard time notifying government agencies of changes in their life. ?
*Primary caregivers and/or patients can incorporate and associate to cultivate cannabis, not until the year 2001, because regulations necessary to enable such coalitions will not be ready until then. Further, the regulations will specify the only ways to grow pot, and government agents will inspect growers cooperatives to ensure compliance with government regs.
People need to organize NOW to cooperatively grow pot, not 15 months from now. The government does not know how to grow pot. The government should not be able to tell pot growers how to grow pot. ?
*Law enforcement can refuse to accept ID cards if they believe fraudulent receipt or use of card; no penalties for cops.
Police already violate the spirit and letter of 215 by arresting sick and dying people for medical pot. There are no penalties in SB 848 if police refuse to honor the government-issued ID cards. There are no penalties for police who violate SB 848. People who are believed to be fraudulently using 215 as a cover for criminal activity, however, are subject to severe penalties explicitly stated in SB 848. ? ? ?
*No accommodation required for medpot in jails, employment, on bail or probation.
Marijuana is medicine. Why should sick and dying people be deprived of pot, when they can use other medicines in jail, at work, on bail or probation?
*No private or public health insurance reimbursement required for medpot.
Health insurance pays for expensive and lethal drugs- why should it not pay for medical marijuana?