Talking Points: Medical Cannabis Dispensary Bans
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Given that medical cannabis law is still being developed, it is reasonable for civic leaders to have concerns about medical cannabis programs. It is crucial that policymakers and other stakeholders be reminded that medical cannabis is legal under state law and municipalities are required to determine what is best for the health and wellbeing of its residents.
Dispensary Ban Creates Legal Consequences for Local Government
- California voters passed The Compassionate Use Act to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes. To advance the will of the California voters, the Legislature enacted SB 420, which established cooperatives and collectives as the recognized forms of medical marijuana cultivation and distribution to those who are too sick or otherwise unable to cultivate it for themselves.
- Municipalities considering outright bans on patient access to medical marijuana should be warned that these actions will have very real consequences. Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana patient-advocacy group, recently served a lawsuit against the city of Fresno for restricting medical marijuana dispensing collectives from operating as enumerated in California law.
- State Attorney General Bill Lockyer recently issued an opinion affirming that municipalities may not restrict the protections afforded by the Compassionate Use Act and SB420 to qualified medical marijuana patients. Municipalities debating ordinances that curtail the right of seriously ill Californians to obtain the medicine they need ought to be aware that such regulation conflicts with the general rule of California law.
- A rigid policy that bans medical marijuana collectives deprives qualified medical marijuana patients of the medicine promised them by the Compassionate Use Act. Banning or limiting the number of dispensing collectives allowed to operate places unnecessary hardship on patients with limited mobility and financial security. It is crucial that medical cannabis dispensing collectives be readily accessible to patients throughout and across our community.
- Medical cannabis dispensaries provide support and healing for patients. Dispensing collectives have positive psychosocial health benefits for chronically ill people who are otherwise isolated. The type of support and services offered by many dispensaries improves the quality of life, and, in some cases may even prolong life.
- Medical cannabis dispensaries are necessary for patients who are financially, physically, or otherwise restricted from producing their own medicine - particularly for patients who reside in Section 8 or other restrictive housing arrangements.
Medical Dispensing Collectives Provide Safe Access and Positive Benefits for the Community
- Medical cannabis dispensaries are wellness facilities where individuals suffering from serious illnesses can find safe access to medicine, support, and healing. It is shameful that our elected officials are actively trying to prevent safe and legal access for patients.
- Medical cannabis dispensaries can be a positive part of our community. When properly permitted, regulated and operated, dispensing collectives will prevent lawful patients from unnecessary and potentially harmful entanglements with illicit markets or law enforcement. The Council ought to be supporting efforts to develop regulations that provide safe and legal access to medical cannabis so patients arenít forced to access medicine in illegitimate places.
- Research confirms that support services are effective for patients with a variety of cancers and other terminal illnesses. Participants active in support services are less anxious and depressed, make better use of their time and are more likely to return to work than patients who receive only standardized care. The Council should be supporting efforts to improve the health, welfare and quality of life of patients in our community.
- There is no evidence that a well-run dispensing collective leads to
crime. It is unfair to stigmatize legal patients by treating their
collective like a criminal or nuisance activiity.