Regulating pot clubs

May 23, 2005

EDITORIAL, San Francisco Chronicle

THE RESPONSE of most local governments to the 1996 passage of Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California, has been to look the other way and hope for the best.

San Francisco is Exhibit A of the dangers of such a laissez-faire approach. The city is overrun with 43 dispensaries who, to put it charitably, approach the distribution of pot with varying levels of responsibility.

San Francisco is finally looking at ways to tighten its oversight of dispensaries. So is Alameda County, which now has seven.

Alameda County's Board of Supervisors today is expected to consider regulations that would, among other things, impose a limit of five dispensaries and ensure that they do not open around schools, allow on-site consumption or cluster around each other.

The county is looking at an even bolder proposal by Supervisor Nate Miley to have the county run a medical marijuana dispensary at Fairmont Hospital. Miley's proposal is worth a try. At this point, the main obstacle appears to be legal concerns over the conflict with federal laws against the cultivation, possession or distribution of marijuana.

Those federal laws need to be changed -- and the best way to bring that change is to show that medical marijuana programs can be run safely and responsibly. San Francisco and Alameda County are moving in the right direction.

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