Local marijuana measures could drive state, and ultimately national, pot policy

While other western states like Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use, a coherent statewide policy for regulating medical marijuana remains elusive in California.

Increasingly, local governments are driving the policy efforts over how to regulate the substance which was legalized for medicinal use by state voters, but remains a Schedule 1 drug banned by the federal government.

Cities and counties across California are stepping into this legal and regulatory gray area. This fall in California, 13 local measures will go before voters aimed at setting medical pot policy.

That’s far more than voters have seen in the past. The increased local interest in growing out of the state’s failure to craft a coherent policy, and in the the shadows of an expected effort to legalize pot more widely, which could be on the state ballot as soon as 2016.

But for now, while the state has avoided the issue, local California governments are increasingly taking it on.

It’s no longer possible to just ban medical marijuana dispensaries. That’s really becoming an untenable situation But all this local activity may prompt the state to act.

We saw that happen on the issue of single-use plastic bans. About 100 localities banned the bags before Sacramento finally took action on the policy this year.

That’s exactly what’s going to happen with the pot issue.

There will be a state-wide measure on the 2016 ballot to legalize marijuana. And he says once California approves, it’s just a matter of time before the rest of the country follows.


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