In late February, a political committee called Citizens for Patient Rights announced that Rep. Bob Filner, a candidate for mayor, had endorsed its ballot initiative to set up a municipal regulatory system for medical marijuana in the city of San Diego.
Filner is almost universally recognized by the medical-marijuana community as the candidate of choice on the issue. But the community is not universally backing the ballot measure. As we previously reported, two prominent local organizations, the San Diego branch of Americans for Safe Access and the California Cannabis Coalition, both expressed concern that the measure would set up an unfair regulatory system. As it's written, the initiative would put regulatory, inspection and certification powers in the hands of a single organization, the Patient Care Association, the main group bankrolling Citizens for Patients Rights. The group claims to be a sort of chamber of commerce for the medi-pot industry, representing about 60 collectives.
And the Patient Care Association is a big supporter of not only Filner, raising money for his campaign, but it's also well-connected to the California Democratic Party. The group sponsored a well-attended hospitality suite when the state convention came through in the spring.
Generally speaking, however, Democrats (and CityBeat) tend to reject the idea of self-regulating industries, arguing that corporations can't be trusted to police themselves. So, what makes medical marijuana different from, for example, the energy or financial industries?
During our endorsement interview, we asked Filner whether he believed the medical-marijuana industry should write and oversee its own regulations.
Filner said no, it shouldn't, and that he didn't know the initiative contained that provision when he endorsed it. Nevertheless, he said that he still supports the initiative as a "political statement," though he thinks that the initiative would become moot if he's elected.
"I didn't get that when I read it," he said. "I think this issue has to be moved forward and nobody is coming up with a way. I'm not mayor now. I would move it forward if I'm mayor in terms of ordinances and regulations... that would encourage but regulate medical marijuana. But given the fact I'm not mayor now and nothing is moving forward, I said anything that moved it forward I would support. I didn't get that when I read the initiative. If that's a problem we need to deal with it... I support it as a political statement to say we have to move forward on this."
Here's the video clip: