Medical marijuana supporters gather signatures to create new state agency to regulate medical marijuana

February 15, 2012

Nannette Miranda, ABC News

Medical marijuana supporters hold vigils in front of federal buildings throughout California to protest the Obama Administration's recent raids on dispensaries.

Supporters hope the President hears about them during his fundraising trip to the Golden State.

"One of the most frustrating things is that there is no rhyme or reason or any kind of formula that they're going by and who they're going after," Americans for Safe Access Courtney Sheats said.

While California voters legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996, it remains a federal crime to sell or possess it.

The Obama Administration stepped up enforcement last fall to rein in the explosive spread of medical marijuana outlets, even though as a presidential candidate, Obama said no such raids would take place.

A new citizen initiative, which just got approved for signature gathering, hopes to change that.

It creates a new state agency that regulates medical marijuana and allows taxation of up to 2.5 percent, superseding most local tax rates in effect. The initiative also bars state or local assistance in any federal enforcement against medical marijuana.

Supporters need to gather enough signatures by mid-July to qualify for the November ballot.

"Our lack of uniformity, the looseness of our medical marijuana system has invited federal participation," Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana Roger Salazar said. "Tightening those things up would hopefully get the feds out of our hair in California."

Bishop Ron Allen is furious; he wants the raids on pot clubs to continue. The International Faith Based Coalition doesn't think more oversight will curb recreational use.

"We just believe people want to get high and make it an excuse of smoke marijuana," Allen said. "If there is some medicine in so-called medical marijuana, let the FDA tell us that, not those who smoke pot."



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