There oughta be a law

Do you think California will ever have a comprehensive statewide medical-cannabis law?

—Wonky Willie

The short answer is yes. The long answer is no one knows what kind of legislation we will see. I was just talking to Don Duncan, the California director of Americans for Safe Access, and he told me that State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg really wants to do something, but no one really knows what that something will be. Many of the bigger dispensaries have teamed up with the lobbying pros at California Strategies and are pushing for the state to take a stronger hand in regulation. But there are no serious proposals yet. Last year, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill that would have allowed statewide sales, but he withdrew the bill after it sat around for a few months.

The big questions seem to be about whether or not to allow backyard growing and how much and how often to tax cannabis. But if you really look at it, California needs to legalize weed more than weed needs to be legalized. The state, of course, would like to get maximum value, but tax it too much and the black market will just ignore the taxes altogether. Weed is different from tobacco and alcohol because weed already has a good black-market distribution system in place. Weed doesn’t need the money. California needs the money, if you catch my drift.

I’m in my 40s, have been smoking out since my late teens and have never legally purchased pot. My longtime dealer recently said to me, “Look, why don’t you just get a card?” I took it as a hint, but seriously, I have no idea where to start. Being a professional, part of me worries about being on some list that could be used against me at some later date. And honestly, it’s always been sort of fun to be doing something clandestine all these years. Help!

—916 Tabs

First, I would like to say that I am pleasantly surprised that your dealer suggested you get a letter of recommendation. It’s a good idea, though. A letter will help you avoid serious trouble if you get caught with a bunch of weed or a little bit of hash. It’s very easy to get a card. You can pretty much pick a doctor at random and go see them. You will not be “put on some list.” The feds don’t care about weed users; they go after large-scale weed growers and sellers. After you get your letter, hit up some sites like WeedTracker or WeedMaps and find a club in your area. Easy peasy.