The different reactions to marijuana legalization by Coachella Valley’s cities have been varied … to say the least.
Palm Springs has always been forward-thinking where cannabis is concerned, and Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City and Coachella are now wisely looking to cash in on the green rush. Meanwhile, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage are going in the other direction by doing their best to slow access—or ban weed altogether.
Now Indian Wells has enacted the most draconian policies yet in the wake of Proposition 64’s November voter approval.
Indian Wells recently passed an ordinance that requires residents who wish to grow marijuana at home for personal use, as allowed by Prop 64, to register with City Hall for a permit—and pay a $141-per-year fee.
Marijuana activists and legal experts alike are attacking the law as unconstitutional, but that didn’t prevent the City Council from passing the ordinance in a 4-1 vote.
Councilman Ty Peabody abstained. Later, according to The Desert Sun, he commented: “I just don’t believe in marijuana,” citing the continuing federal ban.
(What does that even mean? Has he been under a rock the last couple decades?)
In addition to the yearly fee attached to the permit, Indian Wells residents would be required by law to allow city employees to inspect their homes to determine compliance with state and local laws.
While Prop 64 does allow jurisdictions to enact reasonable regulations on a local level, the Indian Wells’ requirements represent a vast overreach, according to multiple experts on the law. In fact, Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said this may the tightest regulation passed in California to date.
“Proposition 64 states: ‘A city, county, or city and county may enact and enforce reasonable regulations to reasonably regulate’ the indoor cultivation of marijuana by adults,” Armentano told the Independent via e-mail. “However, this proposal clearly stretches the idea of what would be considered ‘reasonable.’ We would not expect adults to register with the city or to submit to inspections of their home if they were brewing their own alcohol, and we should not expect adults to give up their civil liberties and privacy rights to engage in indoor marijuana gardening—activity that is now perfectly legal under state law.”
Dale Gieringer, the director of California NORML, also compared home growers of marijuana to home brewers, and questioned the usefulness of such a law.
“We believe the Indian Wells ordinance violates Prop 64,” he said. “Prop 64 authorizes ‘reasonable’ regulations of personal-use cultivation. Why doesn’t it impose the same regulations on indoor growing of all plants, or on home brewing of beer and wine? This is an obnoxious exercise in over-regulation and an affront to personal privacy. Don’t Indian Wells officials have anything better to do?”
“Unconstitutional” and “crazy” are words used to describe the ordinance by attorney and cannabis law expert Omar Figueroa of Sonoma County. In a conversation with The Desert Sun, he cited the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court Case Leary v. United States, which ruled that “self-incrimination” can’t be required by state or local agencies, due to the Fifth Amendment.
“It’s not a constitutionally enforceable law,” he told The Desert Sun. “It would be foolish of them to enforce it.”
Joy Brown Meredith, the founder and president of Joy of Life Wellness Center, Palm Springs’ sixth licensed dispensary, said she’s happy to be located in a less-restrictive Coachella Valley city.
“I’m glad Palm Springs is more progressive than Indian Wells,” she said. “What is the purpose of the permit and all the identification requirements if not to intimidate people to feel uneasy about growing this amazing plant?”
Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indio and La Quinta have banned dispensaries and cultivation. The city of Coachella allows manufacturing and cultivation in a specific zone of the city, but not dispensaries or delivery.
Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells recently amended their respective bans to include recreational marijuana businesses in the wake of Prop 64.
DEA: CBD and all other cannabis extracts are on Schedule I
Continuing its steady march backward, the Drug Enforcement Administration has lumped all marijuana extracts—including CBD—into marijuana’s Schedule I classification, making every form of the cannabis plant illegal under federal law.
The new code defines extracts as “containing one or more cannabinoids that (have) been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant.”
The DEA says it’s merely a way to keep better track of research and shipments of extracts versus flowers, by assigning extracts their own code. But the new rule states clearly: “For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids. … However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code.”
CBD occurs naturally in cannabis, but unlike THC, it doesn’t get the user high. CBD has been successful in the treatment of tumors, epilepsy, chronic pain and many other ailments. To date, CBD has been legalized in 20 states and Washington, D.C., for medicinal use. While these state laws will not be affected by the new code, those laws will now be more specifically in conflict with federal law.
Congress could still act to reschedule CBD and other extracts. The Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act was introduced in the Senate last year to ease research restrictions on CBD, but stalled—despite support from both sides of the aisle.
Currently, the federal government has a laissez-faire stance regarding state cannabis laws; in other words, the feds are letting states call the shots for their citizens. However, considering the anti-pot crusaders prevalent in the incoming Trump administration—including Vice President-elect Mike Pence and attorney general pick Ken “good people don’t smoke marijuana” Sessions—one must wonder how long that attitude will last.