California Legislature Advances Medical Marijuana, Family Leave Bills
Just before a Friday night deadline, California lawmakers passed bills aimed at establishing statewide medical marijuana regulations and expanding the state's family leave rules.
Details of Medical Marijuana Bill
The Legislature approved a package of bills aimed at creating a regulatory framework for the state's medical marijuana industry, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 9/11).
Earlier this month, lawmakers confirmed that officials from Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) administration would help combine the policies outlined in various Assembly and Senate bills and negotiate disagreements between the authors. On Thursday, lawmakers announced that they reached a deal on a legislative package that includes:
- SB 643, by state Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), which would develop a framework for governing the medical marijuana industry;
- AB 243, by Assembly member Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), which would give water agencies some regulatory control over the medical marijuana industry; and
- A measure, by Assembly member Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), which would require state and local licenses for medical marijuana businesses.
The package of bills also includes provisions that would:
- Allow cities and counties to levy fees to recoup regulation costs and place taxes for cultivation and retail sale of medical marijuana on the state ballot, in addition to sales taxes;
- Create a new state Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to oversee multiagency licensing and regulatory efforts an involve the departments of Food and Agriculture and Public Health;
- Make localities eligible for grants from a production and mitigation fund to support law enforcement and cleanup efforts; and
- Require mandatory testing of products to ensure patient safety.
Wood said the compromise package abandoned a proposed excise tax to raise $60 million for policing and environmental protection (California Healthline, 9/11).
Assembly member Reginald Jones Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) said, "This unprecedented collaborative effort will finally, after 19 years, regulate the medical marijuana industry."
Meanwhile, Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, said, "This legislation is an important first step in cleaning up the mess created by free-for-all marijuana production in one of the most environmentally sensitive corners of California" ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 9/11).
Brown has until Oct. 11 to sign or veto the measures (Sacramento Business Journal, 9/11).
Details of Family Leave Bill
Meanwhile, the Assembly and state Senate also advanced a bill (SB 406) that would extend job protection for those who take family leave to care for domestic partners, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law or siblings, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports. Under current law, jobs are only protected for those who take leave to care for children, parents or spouses (Koseff, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 9/11).
The measure struggled to pass the Assembly, eventually advancing in a 41-29 vote -- the minimum number of votes needed to pass ("Capitol Blog," Capital Public Radio, 9/11).
The state Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill and has added the measure to its list of "job killer" legislation.
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), author of the bill, said she was "disappointed that it was so difficult" to pass the measure," adding, "All we're trying to do is recognize that Californians live in multi-generational families ... and when they get sick, we shouldn't lose our jobs to care for them" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 9/11).
Brown has until Oct. 11 to sign or veto the measures ("Capitol Blog," Capital Public Radio, 9/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.