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Los Angeles Made “Mistakes”

Posted By Bruce Haring On January 7, 2010 @ 1:34 pm In News | No Comments

Continuing our 2010 outlook chats with marijuana industry leaders on the front lines, the Marijuana Business Reporter talk with Kurt Gardinier of the Marijuana Policy Project for his take on the coming year.

Marijuana Business Reporter:

Kurt Gardinier: I can’t speak in terms of the larger marijuana industry. But I can in terms of the legislative initiatves. 2009 was by far the best year for marijuana policy reform in U.S. history in terms of polling, the Obama administration, passing medical marijuana in states. 2010 is looking to be even more productive and we’re very optimistic.

Right now we have a lot of measures going on in many different states. Right now, there’s 13 states that have medical marijuana laws on their books. And I would say about two dozen states, there is some type of reform legislation and/or initiative process to change their state’s marijuana laws, which is very impressive.

In Arizona, we’re working there. MPP has already collected 200,000 of the 250,000 signatures that are needed to place an initiative on the November 2010 ballot which will legalize medical marijuana. Just yesterday, in Nevada, we submitted our petition paperwork to the Secretary of State to start the petitioning process to collect signatures to put a measure on the ballot in 2012 which would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol in the state of Nevada. So it’s looking very optimistic.

In terms of opposition, it’s the opposition we’ve been facing for years. The prohibitionists who try to scare you with talk that marijuana is a gateway drug, that marijuana is evil, it’s immoral. When basically all we’re trying to do is get people to realize that marijuana is the largest cash crop in the country and it’s untaxed, unregulated and completely controlled by drug dealers and criminals. And we feel that marijuana is a far safer alternative to legal drugs such as alcohol.

Marijuana Business Reporter: Do dispensaries have to change their image? Many news reports show owners straight out of the ‘60s or Bob Marley wanna-be’s.

Kurt Gardinier: I do. I think a lot of that negative image is coming from California and specifically in Los Angeles. Within California, every county is regulated differently. And most of the problems that you’re seeing on the TV that the media are going after are problems in Los Angeles County. When you look up North, in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s run much more smoother, they have very strict laws and regulations on dispensaries, how many dispensaries to have. Los Angeles has kind of just dropped the ball in terms of regulated medical marijuana in that county. The fact that there’s so many dispensaries they can’t control them. But I think they limit the amount of dispensaries in the county, I think you’ll see the whole image kind of cleaned up.

In terms of other states that we’re in right now, in Nevada, we have very strict regulations and guidelines for the state. In terms of dispensaries, we have a specific limit on the number of dispensaries that would be permitted in the state. For example, in Arizona, we have 120. We propose to have 120 dispensaries statewise. So we’re not really as open as it is in California. So we feel that California, although it was the first state to pass medical marijuana, which was a great victory for the movement. We’re kind of growing and learning from some of the mistakes that were made in California.

Marijuana Business Reporter: Is there a close parallel between how the alcohol industry is regulated and what marijuana aspires to be?

Kurt Gardinier: Basically, we propose that marijuana would be taxed and regulated like alcohol in terms of the age limit being 21. It’s different in every state, but in terms of Nevada, as an example, we proposed that we be taxed and regulated like alcohol. As opposed to alcohol, we propose that there would be no advertising of marijuana within Nevada. In Washington state, there’s a bill that was pre-filed for this upcoming legislative session, they proposed to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. The way they would integrate it would be to literally start the sale of marijuana in the state’s liquor stores. Which I believe, in Washington, there were 160. So that would allow current business owners in Washington who sell liquor to have the opportunity to sell marijuana within those liquor stores. So they would strictly regulate that by that alone.


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