Learning from California’s Medical Marijuana Lapses

110415_Learning from California's Medical Marijuana Lapses 

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California was the first state to attempt to legalize medical marijuana way back in 1996 with Proposition 215, and let’s admit it—it wasn’t a pretty sight. Despite making marijuana available to many, the loose laws prevented the authorities from gaining control over the medical marijuana movement, hence making California the wild west of cannabis for a long time.

But all that’s in the past now, as California is fixing a lot of these mistakes with a new law in place. The new law has amended a lot of things in the original 1996 law, including limiting the number of available licenses and testing marijuana products for cannabinoid content and contaminants.

There are still flaws in the new law though, like missing the opportunity to collect data about the potential benefits and long-term risks of medical marijuana. With more than 500,000 patients in California’s medical marijuana program, this could provide a gold mine of information for future cannabis studies. Another oversight is the education requirement for the dispensary staff, as they should at least be trained somehow on how marijuana works for common conditions, as well as the side effects and interactions with other drugs.

Still, other states have learned from California’s boo-boos. For instance, Maryland has implemented testing, limitations on number of licenses, and careful scrutiny of applicants for business licenses. If not for California’s 1996 law that served as a pretty rough draft for succeeding medical marijuana state laws, there could have been more mistakes now as marijuana legalization on several states goes underway. Perhaps the trial-and-error nature of these existing laws can help the federal government devise a better and all-encompassing medical marijuana law in the future.

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