Introductory Letter from ASA
This document is available for download in .PDF format (170K).
Dear City Councils and County Boards of Supervisors,
The last several years have seen a significant increase in the number of medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives opening in California. Until recently, most were concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are now seeing dispensaries opening in larger numbers in Southern California, suburban cities, and rural areas.
This trend presents a respectable challenge for California City Councils and County Boards of Supervisors to create and adopt ordinances, which have both the patients and the public in mind. Regardless of the federal government's position on medical marijuana, it is up to the states, and their counties and municipalities to determine what is best for the health of its people. Appropriately, and in accordance with SB 420, state lawmakers have placed the responsibility with cities and counties to take action to regulate the provision of medical cannabis to California’s estimated 75,000 qualified patients.
The goals of local regulation should be: (1) to ensure that there is a safe, reliable, and sanctioned source of medication for legal patients in the community; and (2) to protect the community from nuisance activity or other harm that may result from the improper operation of these organizations. With these goals in mind, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is working with policy makers in cities and counties across the state to develop sensible and compassionate regulations for medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives that comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law.
It is reasonable for civic leaders to have concerns about medical cannabis programs. This is an entirely new area of activity, but there are successful precedents to follow. It is important to remember that medical cannabis is legal under state law, and that we are developing regulations for access to legitimate medicine. For this reason, policy makers must approach the issue of collectives and cooperatives from the standpoint of regulating a condoned and legal activity. As such, it is more appropriate for city councils, boards of supervisors or even departments of public health to create and propose regulations than it is for law enforcement.
Medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives can be a positive part of a community. When properly regulated and operated, they will prevent lawful patients from unnecessary and potentially harmful entanglements with illicit markets or law enforcement. They will also be a key element in ensuring that patients are legally qualified and well educated about their rights and responsibilities under the law. Most importantly, a medical cannabis collective or cooperative will be a place that community members suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses can find support, safety, and healing.
We need the participation of the entire community to develop and successfully implement effective regulations for medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives. Our hope is that the voices of patients, caregivers, and advocates will be heard along side those of law enforcement and civic leaders. ASA is committed to help local governments find ways to implement the will of California voters while protecting the interests of patients and their neighbors. To that end, ASA staff prepared a report, “Medical Cannabis Dispensing Collectives and Local Regulations,” to share with you the experiences of other localities and to guide you through the process of developing regulations for dispensing collectives.
Thank you for taking the time to create safe and legal access for California's most vulnerable citizens. Our knowledgeable staff is available to answer any questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to call.
Americans for Safe Access