Loose marijuana laws are creating chaos in the Golden State. With San Jose communities organizing “Weed for Vote” programs and the water shortage in Northern California, people are left to wonder what will happen if no regulations are passed.
Since 1996, California has been the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use. Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act, was written to maximize the legalization of marijuana and restrict regulations. In 2003, the Medical Marijuana Program Act gave guidelines on how much marijuana a typical patient could possess but gave physicians the ability to prescribe larger doses.
Marijuana plant farms have become extremely popular and profitable. According to California wildlife officials, pollution from legal and illegal farms is dangerously affecting Northern California. Farmers are creating dams and waterways to water their plants, which is causing natural streams to dry up and harming endangered species like salmon and steelhead.
According to the study, each waterway has over thirty thousand plants. Each plant uses about six gallons per day, for the 150-day growing cycle. If no regulations are passed, the state may face a draught this summer.
The state of California has tried passing numerous bills this year regulating marijuana usage and business, but they have all been rejected. In May, the Senate failed to pass Bill 1894, which would have created a marijuana agency under the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The agency would have created standards for growing, sales, licensing fees, and penalties for misconduct by dispensary owners.
Senate Bill 1262 was introduced in February and would create health and safety standards; impose stricter regulations on how doctors prescribe marijuana and record data; and only give licenses to a dispensary business after receiving permission from local governments.
Los Angeles County started placing the responsibility in their own hands. Last May, Proposition D was approved. It closed all marijuana dispensaries that were not a part of a moratorium in 2007, which only allowed certain regulated dispensaries to be open in California. Legally, only 135 stores can remain open in LA County, under strict guidelines.
Proposition D didn’t work as planned; only 70 of the now-illegal stores have closed. However, the Los Angeles finance office shows that over 1,400 dispensary businesses have filed taxes since 2011, creating over 8.6 million dollars in tax revenue.
So what happens if you are now running an illegal dispensary, or are buying from one? Under California’s laws, you can be charged with possession, intent to sell, sale, cultivation and more. If you only have it in your possession, the maximum fine is 500 dollars. If you are convicted of intent to sell, a felony, you can be imprisoned for up to three years.
Other felony charges could stem from selling, delivering, or growing the plant.
Some cities are making an effort to regulate this chaos. Others are skeptical of the entire ordeal. If you are charged with a marijuana crime, the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Greenberg & Greenberg can help you.