Calif. Lawmakers Considering Statewide Rules for Medical Marijuana
California lawmakers are considering several bills aimed at establishing statewide medical marijuana regulations, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/2).
As many as 1.4 million Californians have used marijuana for medical reasons since the state legalized its use in 1996, according to a 2014 study by the Survey Research Group. Meanwhile, there are more than 1,000 dispensaries in California, according to Don Duncan, California director of the Americans for Safe Access medical marijuana advocacy group.
However, California has struggled to regulate the industry, in part because the federal government maintains that marijuana sales are illegal, according to the Los Angeles Times. As a result, cities and counties within the state have established a mix of regulations.
Assembly member Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) said the lack of regulation in parts of the state has resulted in a "Wild West" environment (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 5/2).
Details of Bills
The medical marijuana-related bills being considered in California include:
- AB 34, by Assembly members Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) and Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), which would give the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulatory authority over pot dispensaries and the state Department of Food and Agriculture regulatory control over growers (California Healthline, 4/29);
- AB 243, by Assembly member Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), which would direct state agencies -- such as the Water Resources Control Board -- to review the environmental effects of cultivating marijuana and establish rules to diminish those effects;
- AB 258, by Assembly member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), which would make it illegal to deny organs to transplant patients because they use medical marijuana (Los Angeles Times, 5/2);
- AB 266, by Cooley, which would establish a two-tier system for medical marijuana licensure, giving the state the responsibility of issuing conditional licenses and local governments the authority to issue the actual operational licenses for growers, transporters and dispensaries (California Healthline, 2/12); and
- SB 643, by state Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), which would create a new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation and allow counties to levy a tax on those who grow and sell medical marijuana (Los Angeles Times, 5/2).