SB 1262 and California Patients

photo2.JPGThe debate about SB 1262 in California has been a contentious one, and controversy is sure to persist until a final vote on the bill that will regulate doctors who recommend medical cannabis and those who commercially cultivate, process, test, and distribute it. About 150 medical cannabis patients and stakeholders came to Sacramento on Monday to talk about SB 1262 and other legislation. They debated the pros and cons of the bills, and voiced opinions for and against SB 1262 in more than 100 legislative offices. Well done!

The provisions of the bill related to commercial licensing have dominated the debate, but I am hearing an important question more often as we come to the endgame for SB 1262. What does the bill mean for patients? That is a good question, and the answer is good news for those who legally use medical cannabis in California.

Based on the amended version of the bill from August 4, 2014:

  • Section 3 of the bill amends the Section 2525.1 of the Business and Professions Code to require regulators to consult with the California Marijuana Research Program at the University of California regarding the administration and use of medical cannabis. That means policymakers will have the benefit of science and clinical experience in setting guidelines that affect patients.
  • Sections 18101(a) and (b) in Section 4 of the bill exempt patients and primary caregivers serving five or fewer patients from the requirement to obtain a license for any purpose. Patients and caregivers may continue to grow their own medicine.
  • Section 18104 instructs the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to set standards for commercial medical cannabis activity – something missing in California law right now. This will help standardize and improve business practices in the industry that serves patients.
  • Section 18105 and subsequent sections require the Bureau to set standards for laboratories that test medical cannabis. This will make it easier for patients to trust and compare testing results statewide.
  • Section 18105 requires the Bureau to set standards analogous to existing environmental, agricultural, consumer protection, food and product safety, and sanitation rules. This will bring the stands in the medical cannabis industry in line with the accepted norms for other industries serving the public.
  • This same section and provisions in Section 7 require that edible preparations of medical cannabis be produced, packaged, tested, and labeled like other commercially-available food products. That means patients can have confidence in their edible medicines.
  • Section 18105 also requires the Bureau to set minimum standards health and safety, quality control, and more – the same kinds of protection consumers enjoy with other products and medicines already.
  • Section 18123 prohibits advertising that is fraudulent, deceitful, or misleading.
  • Section 18124 requires that licensed facilities provide adequate security, prevent nuisance behavior, uphold careful inventory protocols, and more.
  • Section 18135 requires that patient’s personal data be confidential and exempt from the California Public Records Act.
  • Section 18136 specifically protects patients and others who are employed in the medical cannabis field from prosecution.

Not everything about this bill is ideal, and ASA is still working to get important concessions before next week’s Assembly Appropriations committee hearing. Nevertheless, the benefits for patients already in the bill are clear. SB 1262 will create safety and operational standards that protect patients and foster confidence in the emerging industry. That is a win for legal patients.

See also – So, What’s the Deal With SB 1262?