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Tuesday, Jan 14 2014 03:03 PM

'First Look': Local attorney discusses cannabis laws

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    Attorney Phil Ganong talks about medical marijuana with Californian President and CEO Richard Beene on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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Residents in Colorado can now buy marijuana legally. The state began allowing the sale of medicinal and recreational marijuana to anyone 21 and above on Jan. 1. Washington is the only other state in the United States where the sale of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational uses is legal.

In California, cannabis is allowed for medical use only, although that conflicts with federal law.

Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox," Phil Ganong, a local attorney who has represented medical marijuana collectives, talked about the contradicting laws concerning marijuana.

Richard Beene, Californian CEO and president, asked Ganong who makes decisions at the federal level about enforcement policy and guidelines.

"It ultimately stops with Obama," Ganong said. "If he says 'I want this policy enforced or says 'I don't want it enforced,' his troops are going to follow."

Beene also posed a hypothetical question: If he got an illness that called for marijuana use, could he purchase it in Kern County?

Ganong said yes. Doctors in California can give patients a recommendation, but not a prescription, for marijuana use.

With Colorado and Washington now selling marijuana for recreational use, Ganong explained how California could do the same.

"If you are regulating cannabis, you have control of where it's distributed, how it's distributed, the quality, where does the money go, and where does the cannabis comes from," Ganong said.

These are all important factors for law enforcement when trying to ensure that drug trafficking organizations aren't involved, the attorney said.

Ganong has proposed an ordinance with the help of the City Attorney's office that calls for proper labeling of cannabis.

"This means that all cannabis should be tested," Ganong said.

Ganong said he hopes the ordinance would help educate the public and "show them that we have a benign substance that we have worked with the past 18 years and we have not seen a spike in crime or difference in the state because of it."


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