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Protect California Ganja Farmers! Stop the MMRSA (Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act)

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Politicians and State Agencies in California are rushing to pass legislation as the 2016 presidential election is coming up, and the possibility of Cannabis becoming legalized.  As many people may see legalization as a good thing, there are many down sides to all of this new regulation.  The Assembly and State Senate just recently passed three new Marijuana regulation bills very last minute, under the MMRSA (Medical Marijuana Regulation & Safety Act), which are AB 266, SB 643, and AB 243.  The bills are now awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s approval, which will determine if these laws go into affect on January 1, 2016 or not.  The Governor has until October 11th to decide, but of course, it can be approved before then.  So we must act quickly to fight for our rights!  


To many Californians, regulations may seem like a good idea at first, but looking deeper, there are many problems that will arise with these passing bills.  And these bills are going to negatively affect farmers, dispensary owners, and patients state wide.  Particularly, outdoor farmers in Northern California are at risk of going out of business due to the unrealistic conditions these bills impose.  SB 643 and AB 243 implement licenses and limit the amount a farmer can grow to 1 acre, which will be regulated by the Department of Food and Agriculture.   This is interesting because which other crops are limited to 1 acre under the DFA?  Look at the central valley and you will see thousands of acres of almonds. Why limit how much Marijuana can be grown?  With all these new licenses and annual water board fees, farmers are going to have to adjust to a smaller profit margin, therefore possibly having to grow a larger crop.  Limiting the amount farmers can grow will make it harder for them to make a profit and could potentially put farmers out of business.  This will greatly affect communities and the economy in Northern California.  Also, under these two bills, the Department of Pesticide Regulation will be regulating pesticide use, but what about our food?  So much of our food has pesticides on it, and that is okay, but when it comes to Marijuana it has to be pesticide free?  There is a double standard here, these regulations are unfair, and if Marijuana is going to be regulated this way because it is something we can “ingest” then our food should be regulated the same way as well.  


These bills also discourage vertical integration, and limit people to possessing only 2 licenses in separate categories.  This is unfair and creating excess regulation, as many farmers in fact cultivate, transport, distribute, and manufacture everything on their own, which they have been doing for years.  These laws would mandate a “middle-man” for every aspect, which would cost farmers more money to pay people to do things that they have been doing on their own for years.  Also, if they get caught distributing without a license because, let’s say, they already have two licenses in other categories, they will face strict civil penalties.    The “Track and Trace Program” under these bills also present very unrealistic regulations.  They want farmers to label every plant from start to finish and if they do not comply they face penalties up to twice the original fee, plus a fee for every day they were in violation.  This is very unrealistic and a very hard procedure to achieve given the nature of the marijuana harvesting process.  Also, how are they going to regulate this?  This leads to another point about grower’s rights, which has not been addressed.  


Growers need to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure.  In the passing of these laws, law enforcement should not be allowed onto people’s properties and into their homes simply because they see they have a farm and feel they can come in, searching for violations, and serve all of these fee penalties.  They need to have a probable cause to determine that growers are in violation of these licenses, and not be allowed to just come in and check.  Farmers want helicopter flyovers to stop!  Flying over in helicopters and looking at people’s properties is NOT probable cause, but an invasion of privacy!  Law enforcement should be required to have a search warrant to fly over people’s properties, and only on that one property and leave everyone else alone.  Also, they need to stay above the 500-foot height threshold, too many of these helicopters are flying dangerously close, at about 200 feet, scaring the living daylights out of people and invading privacy.  The 4th amendment of the Bill of Rights protects people against unreasonable search and seizure, and the people are demanding it be respected and enforced.  People also want their 2nd amendment rights protected, the right to keep and bear arms.  If law enforcement finds registered firearms on or near a garden, or within a home or structure within the same proximity of a garden, owners should not be prosecuted for said possession.  There should be no reason why someone should face an additional penalty charge for possessing a registered firearm.  


Lastly, there needs to be a large amount of money to fund all of this new enforcement of these regulations.  The MMRSA fund has been established to receive fees and penalties, and $10 million has been allocated to the DCA (Dept. of Consumer Affairs) with an additional $10 million to potentially be added through the General Fund.  And under AB 266, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation has been established, which is a new agency requiring additional funding.  Who supplies money to the General Fund?  TAX PAYERS.  That’s right, people’s sales and income taxes are going to be supporting all of this regulation and enforcement.  Do you approve of this use of your hard earned money?


Not all people who grow pot are criminals; many of them are hard working, honest, and passionate. Please do not punish those who are just trying to make a living in this expensive world. There need not be an additional excise tax. Measure Z in Humboldt County just added 30 new Sheriff’s positions, and 11 district Attorneys, with a total allocation of funding for law enforcement at $5.638 million. These new bills are going to cost so much money for taxpayers and the state. Please veto, there are way more important battles to be fought in our country right now.


  It is clear that these regulations are not going to work for the thousands of people who have been in this industry for years.  If politicians listen to the people, and take into account our opinions, we can come up with a better more realistic framework that people could be more willing to comply with.  Otherwise, the black market will continue, and more people’s lives are going to be ruined by law enforcement. Please tell Governor Jerry Brown to VETO the MMRSA, and the several representatives who passed these bills to rethink what they have written.  Help save the Emerald Triangle, the largest producer of Marijuana in the country, by keeping the industry in the hands of people who have been working hard for decades, and out of the pockets of Big Corporations.  The Cannabis industry sustains people’s livelihoods and creates jobs, and the improper implementation of these bills can potentially put an end to many people’s lifestyles, and have a negative impact on local economies, and perhaps the rest of the state.  We do not need to rush into this, and listening to the people will go a long way to make this a better transition.


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