What exactly is it about medical marijuana that makes it such a contentious issue? Why are the states that decriminalised the selling of cannabis to doctor-approved patients now attempting to enforce so many restrictions? There seems to be a constant dance between what is permitted and what is not allowed for proponents of full-scale legalisation and companies that market the product.
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After California decriminalised the selling of medical marijuana, nearly 800 dispensaries sprouted up across the state. Owners of 439 of them were advised in May 2010 that they needed to close by June 7 in order to comply with city ordinances. The closures were attributed to distance from areas where children congregate, such as schools and parks, as well as enrollment deadlines that were missed.
The next move was to hold a lottery for the remaining dispensaries across the city. The lottery was open to collectives and dispensaries that had been in service since September 14, 2007 and had maintained at least one original owner. Since then, the city of Los Angeles has told the owners of 140 additional dispensaries that they must close their doors as well, leaving the city with just 100 dispensaries.
Even as California discusses collecting sales tax from medical marijuana dispensaries and growing cooperatives, how did things change so drastically?
No Measure in New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez – R, on the other hand, has made a point of repealing New Mexico’s medical marijuana law, and has attempted to put a referendum on the subject this year. This is a party-line stance. However, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. James Smith – R, withdrew the bill and replaced it with House Memorial 53, which calls for a Department of Health effects review of medical marijuana laws. Residents of New Mexico can still legally procure medical marijuana for the time being.
Restrictions on Business
Despite the fact that medical marijuana dispensaries have been decriminalised, they are no closer to finding a solution to their business transactions. Obtaining required commercial accounts, merchant accounts, and insurance coverage can be difficult unless the dispensary is able to operate on a “cash only” basis. Applications with creative wording mentioning the selling of “supplements” and “health care accessories” are being rejected.
Banks and other financial institutions are also caught in the crossfire. This is a potentially huge market, but due to concerns about criminal prosecution for drug-related offences, securing necessary accounts can be difficult.
This little waltz has revealed one thing: guidelines must be established not only in terms of who has legal authority over the selling of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but also in terms of whether or not companies doing business with the purveyors would be safe from unfair reprisals.