• Emily Drayton, Staff Writer

A Fix for California's Medicinal Cannabis Patients?

My story today comes from THE LOS ANGELES BLADE, which is Southern California’s LGBTQ News Source:


Wiener Introduces Legislation to Restore Access to Medicinal Cannabis


“Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 1186 this week, which will restore voter-created access to medical cannabis across the state by requiring cities and counties to provide consumers access to purchase medicinal cannabis products...


Under SB 1186, jurisdictions must allow either licensed medicinal cannabis retail stores, licensed medicinal cannabis deliveries, or both. Cities will be able to choose what kind of medical cannabis business they allow, but they must allow at least one form, as a matter of medicinal access.”

Like so many things in life, when a solution comes along that is so simple, so elegant, as this one, I have to facepalm and say “Why didn’t anyone think of this before?” Maybe they have and I missed it – maybe some of you on the stage will remember similar efforts, and I hope you’ll weigh in at the end.


Wiener’s bill addresses two issues cleverly:


#1. If you’re not from California, you should know that Prop 215 - also known as the Compassionate Use Act -came first, in 1996. Twenty Six Years ago(!)


Prop 215 started the legal cannabis revolution that has swept the nation, where cannabis is now legal for medicinal purposes in 37 of 50 states.


So powerful is our movement that cannabis was recognized as “essential medicine” and cannabis workers were considered “essential workers” during the worst of COVID.

  1. Twenty years after that, “Prop 64 granted cities local control to ban adult-use businesses. Prop 64 did not grant local control to ban medical cannabis businesses. However, the Legislature — without being required by the voters to do so — also granted cities the ability to ban medical cannabis businesses.

  2. The result of Prop 64 is that “People who need cannabis as medicine are thus denied access and forced to rely on the illicit market for their medicine. They are less safe as a result."

Imagine you are a cannabis patient who got legal access to cannabis in 1996. In 70% of the municipalities in California, including massive rural areas in our big state – your right to legal medicine was taken away in 2016. This new bill aims to right that wrong, and I believe we should all support it, regardless of political party.


“SB 1186:

  • Respects the voters’ intent of Prop 215

  • Ensures that Californians throughout the state have timely and convenient access to safe, effective, and affordable medicinal cannabis and cannabis products”

  • Ensures that the will of the voters is not undermined by local jurisdictions that have essentially prevented medicinal access by banning medicinal cannabis retail stores or delivery services.”

#2. Shrinking the illicit cannabis market and creating new opportunity for cannabis companies:


a. Almost 70% of California’s municipalities opted-out of Proposition 64, which has encouraged an illicit market that dwarfs that of every other state. I’ve heard estimates that California’s illicit market is now TWICE AS LARGE as the legal market which means illicit cannabis is $8 Billion per year. It is caused by massive over-production and also massive under-representation at the retail level – the squeeze is killing the industry for many who have devoted their lives to it.


b. This is a legislative failure of epic proportions, and though this new bill does not solve the illicit market issue, it does right an injustice that was done to medical patients across our great state.


c. And that alone is reason to support this bill


If you’d like to contact State Senator Wiener to show your support, his website is https://sd11.senate.ca.gov