CALIFORNIA: The California legislature is about to vote on urgently needed legislation that would clarify the legality of medical marijuana sales, production, transportation, processing and testing through a state-regulated licensing system.
The legislation – AB 604 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano – would eliminate current ambiguities in the law and regulate the commercial production and distribution of medical marijuana under the state Alcohol Beverages Commission.
AB 604 would advance medical marijuana users’ interests by finally addressing the mandate of Prop 215 for a “safe and affordable” distribution system. Most critically, this legislation would help protect California from further federal raids by meeting the Department of Justice’s newly announced conditions for “strong and effective” state regulation. AB 604 would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to that already successfully done in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and other states that have been spared federal raids.
AB 604 would not impose any new taxes, nor would it change the existing rights of Prop 215 patients and their caregivers to grow marijuana for their own medical use at home. Collectives and other businesses engaged in the commercial production and sale of marijuana would be required to register with the ABC. Regulations would require appropriate environmental and security safeguards, product labeling and testing, and compliance with local land use laws.
NORML and other reform groups strongly support AB 604 as an essential step to protect legal access to medical marijuana. However, both bills face strident opposition from the California Narcotics Officers Association, which wants to keep marijuana illegal and keep busting dispensaries and growers.
A companion bill in the Senate by Darrell Steinberg and Mark Leno is also in process.