For the first time in the dozen years of turmoil since California voters legalized medical marijuana, the state’s top law enforcement official issued guidelines designed in part to quell the ongoing friction between the state and federal authorities, reports the Los Angeles Times. Attorney General Jerry Brown’s 11-page directive is intended to help legitimate patients avoid arrest while giving police the tools to distinguish legal medical marijuana operations from illegal cultivators and criminal middlemen. He said his “road map” would serve as a shield against federal officials, who have waged war against the state’s pot rules by conducting raids and mounting court challenges.
The guidelines affirm the legality of many of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries, but only those operated as collectives or cooperatives and not in business for profit. An unlikely coalition of police and medical marijuana activists welcomed the new guidelines, the first substantial directive from a state agency since voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996. Police said the guidelines shed light on what had often seemed to them a shadowy world. “We have been operating in the dark for many years,” said Jerry Dyer, Fresno’s chief of police and president of the California Police Chiefs Association.