From Dale Gieringer April 24, 2014    I’ve never known Cal NORML’s testimony to have as much impact as it did in Monday’s heariing on the Correa MMJ bill SB 1262.  The two leading proponents  were law enforcement and the League of Cities.  On the other side were a host of groups taking the position “oppose unless amended,” including ourselves, the CMA, and most other reform groups except ASA, which gingerly supported it due to its placing regulation in the hands of the Dept of Public Health.  I hadn’t planned on testifying, but changed my mind after being approached before the hearings by Sen. Ellen Corbett, the Democratic Majority Leader, who asked for my opinion on the bill,  then afterwards accurately repeated it in her own words before the committee.  After everyone else had testified either for or against, I testified last,  hedging our position by saying that we supported the intent of the bill, but shared the CMA’s concerns about the MD regulations.  

Committee Chairman Sen. Ted Lieu then called me back to ask whether, if the objectionable provisions were dropped, Cal NORML would shift from opposition to neutral.  I said yes, and Sen. Correa promptly offered to drop one of the objectionable provisions (requiring a pediatrician’s rec for 18 to 21 year olds).   At the end, when Sen. Lieu called for the vote, he stated that  in light of the fact that Cal NORML was willing to shift sides, he would recommend passing the bill on the understanding that the author address iron out opponents’ objections.  It would be presumptuous to assume that we determined the course of the hearings – the CMA was doubtless the major muscle man behind scenes  – but at least we provided a convenient rhetorical prop for the Senator – who is running for Rep. Waxman’s vacant seat, by the way.   Neither do I suppose that all of the objectionable provisions will be removed from SB 1262, but it faces significant hurdles in the Health Committee.

 Another unprecedented sight at the hearings was when  our arch-enemy, CNOA lobbyist John Lovell, brought  in a witness to give heart-rending testimony as to the value of MMJ for his young daughter, who was using high-CBD meds for epilepsy.  The latter qualification was significant, since the bill would restrict recommendations for patients under 21 to high-CBD, unsmoked medications.  Later, I pointed out to Lovell that unlike high-THC MJ, high-CBD varieties have never been tested in the U.S.. He replied by saying we already “know plenty” about CBD from foreign studies!   Would that our friends at DEA were always so eager to embrace foreign studies.  At the hearings,  Lovell also claimed to represent SAM, saying that the Correa bill is the only MMJ bill in the nation that SAM supports.  
Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML, was a co-author of Proposition 215, the medical marijuana initiative passed by voters in 1996.