California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) is seeking changes in the state’s 15-year old medical marijuana law, citing the legal confusion that surrounds it.

In a letter to the Legislature’s leaders, Harris said the state needs to spell out if the hundreds of storefront dispensaries and delivery services that sell marijuana—purportedly for medical use—are legal, or if the only lawful way to obtain the drug is through patient collectives in which all members jointly grow their own supplies.

“Without a substantive change to existing law, these irreconcilable interpretations of the law, and the resulting uncertainty for law enforcement and seriously ill patients, will persist,” she wrote in the letter to Senate President Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez.

The letter from AG Harris coincides with the start of a ballot measure push from medical marijuana advocates, also seeking more regulation.

Harris sent a separate letter to the U.S. attorneys Wednesday advising them of her request to the Legislature and asking them to focus on human trafficking and international gangs instead of California residents who are trying to comply with the state’s pot laws.

“The federal government is ill-equipped to be the sole arbiter of whether an individual or group is acting within the bounds of California’s medical marijuana laws when cultivating marijuana for medical purposes,” Harris wrote to her federal counterparts, noting that U.S. law does not recognize any health benefits in the drug.

She brings up a good point, and one that goes to the heart of “states’ rights.” If state authorities don’t see a problem in how these operations were running, why is the federal government who is farther removed from the situation?

If nothing else, the bad PR the federal government is getting over this crackdown debacle may serve to jar some politicians into using some common sense. At least the ones who aren’t bought off.

- Joe Klare

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