LA Times Editorial: Los Angeles Needs A New Medical Marijuana Policy

CALIFORNIA: In October, when Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills establishing a statewide system to regulate medicinal cannabis, he called it a long-overdue framework that would “make sure patients have access to medical marijuana, while ensuring a robust tracking system.” He should have added: “Everywhere in the state, except Los Angeles,” because it turns out California’s strict licensing regime won’t apply to the state’s largest city. What’s more, under the terms of the new state law, if L.A. doesn’t change its existing rules, all medicinal pot shops in the city’s boundaries will be illegal in 2018.

In other words, it is possible that there’s even more chaos ahead for this city’s already-unacceptably-chaotic medical marijuana regime. It took nearly 20 years after Californians passed the Compassionate Use Act for the state to adopt a comprehensive system to regulate the cultivation, transportation and sale of medical marijuana — and now it is going to exclude 10% of the state’s population and a significant piece of the cannabis marketplace, and come into seemingly intractable conflict with the city’s most recent effort to manage the situation.


Governor Brown Signs Bills Regulating Medical Marijuana Industry

CALIFORNIA: Governor Jerry Brown signed three bills on Friday that mark the state’s first move towards regulating the medical marijuana industry.

In signing AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643, the governor marked the establishing of “a long-overdue comprehensive regulatory framework for the production, transportation, and sale of medical marijuana,” Brown said in his statement on what is being called Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.

“This new structure will make sure patients have access to medical marijuana, while ensuring a robust tracking system,” said Brown. “This sends a clear and certain signal to our federal counterparts that California is implementing robust controls not only on paper, but in practice.” Although Prop. 215, which voters passed in 1996, legalized cannabis for patients in the state, federal laws do not recognize medical marijuana laws in individual states. Next year’s state ballot will also likely see at least one measure to legalize recreational use.

CA Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill To Allow Those Who Completed Court Ordered Diversion Programs to Clean Up Records

CALIFORNIA: California Gov. Jerry Brown acted on two life-changing companion bills, approving one, but vetoing the other. Brown signed A.B. 1352 which allows those who have completed court ordered drug diversion since 1997 to file with the court to convert their plea to a “not guilty.”  Before 1997, there was a pre-plea diversion option in California.  The relief applies only to those who have completed diversion, which has already resulted in clearing the arrest and conviction from their record. The change is urgently needed, because the guilty plea triggers federal consequences, including deportation for non-citizens, or loss of housing and educational grants for citizens. These cruel consequences exist even for very old cases against legal immigrants or parents or spouses of US citizens.

The prospective companion bill, A.B. 1351 vetoed by Gov. Brown, would have allowed judges the discretion to order diversion to drug treatment or education without the precondition of a guilty plea. California currently lacks a pre-plea option, and the admission of guilt is considered a conviction for federal immigration purposes. The consequences can be immediate and devastating, including deportation, mandatory detention, and permanent separation of families.

The bills were authored by Stockton Democrat Susan Talamantes-Eggman and were considered priorities by the California Legislative Latino Caucus and several immigrant and human rights groups, working in conjunction with drug policy and criminal justice reformers.

LA Times Editorial Gov. Brown, sign the medical marijuana bills

CALIFORNIA: Nearly 20 years after voters legalized medical marijuana, California lawmakers have finally passed legislation to regulate the growth and distribution of cannabis for patients’ use. In the final hours of their session last week, legislators passed three bills that together establish a system to license, test and track medical marijuana from “seed to sale.” Gov. Jerry Brown, who helped craft the deal, should not only sign the bills into law, but he should stay focused on ensuring their smooth, effective implementation.

California was the first state to allow medical marijuana, but the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 provided little guidance on how the state could help ailing patients get the drug — or how to keep it out of the hands of those who weren’t entitled to it. Legislators repeatedly failed to develop rules, so cities and counties adopted a patchwork of policies, which triggered a series of lawsuits and judgments that created a confusing mess for patients, law enforcement, cannabis growers and dispensary operators.

These bills are an attempt to turn that chaotic quasi-legal, supposedly nonprofit system into a transparent, legitimate commercial industry. Anyone working in the cannabis business would need to be licensed, and the state would regulate each step in the growth and distribution chain. The Department of Food and Agriculture would oversee indoor and outdoor marijuana cultivation. The Department of Public Health would set rules for marijuana processing and testing by third-party laboratories to ensure products are checked for quality and safety, as well as packaged and clearly labeled as cannabis. A newly created Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation would regulate the transportation, distribution and sale of pot.

Gov. Jerry Brown Brokering Late Deal On Medical Marijuana Regulations

CALIFORNIA:  Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is crafting the framework for medical marijuana regulations in California, a session-closing play that could end nearly two decades of clashing interpretations and court battles.

With the Legislature scheduled to leave town next week, Brown’s office is said to be bearing down on the details of a compromise medical cannabis measure, legislation that would have implications for the push to place a recreational marijuana legalization initiative on the 2016 statewide ballot.

While Brown’s office is not commenting, legislators and groups with a stake in the issue confirmed over the last week that the Democratic governor’s administration has stepped in to help develop a bill. Last week, legislative leaders stripped the contents of several medical marijuana-related measures and linked them with boilerplate language, establishing a new entry point for Brown’s aides.


Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Law Targeting Illegal Marijuana Grows

CALIFORNIA:  Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law a measure allowing steep civil fines against marijuana farms that damage the environment by dumping wastewater and chemicals, removing trees and killing wild animals.

The measure, one of 16 bills signed by the governor Friday, is meant to expand the powers of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife at a time when illegal marijuana operations are expanding significantly.

Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) introduced the measure based on concern that since California voters approved medical marijuana use in 1996, the number of illegal growing operations in state parklands and forests has increased.

Last year, state agents participated in nearly 250 raids on illegal marijuana operations in which 609,480 marijuana plants were eradicated and 15,839 pounds of processed marijuana was seized.

Despite Support In Party, Democratic Governors Resist Legalizing Marijuana

CALIFORNIA:  California voters strongly favor legalizing marijuana. The state Democratic Party adopted a platform last month urging California to follow Colorado and Washington in ending marijuana prohibition. The state’s lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom, has called for legalizing the drug.

But not Gov. Jerry Brown. “I think we ought to kind of watch and see how things go in Colorado,” Mr. Brown, a Democrat, said curtly when asked the question as he was presenting his state budget this year. [Read more…]

Jerry Brown Worries About Marijuana Legalization And ‘Potheads’

CALIFORNIA:  Gov. Jerry Brown said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that “fiscal discipline is the fundamental predicate of a free society,” but it may help if everyone isn’t getting stoned.

Expressing reservations about legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Brown said a great nation requires a more alert citizenry “than some of the potheads might be able to put together.” Washington and Colorado have legalized the drug, and a Field Poll in December found majority support for legalization in California. [Read more…]

CA Gov Jerry Brown Vetoes Bill To Make Some Drug Crimes 'Wobblers'

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Saturday that that would have given local prosecutors discretion when deciding whether a person charged with possessing a small amount of illegal drugs should be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. [Read more…]

CA Gov Jerry Brown Vetoes Bill To Make Some Drug Crimes 'Wobblers'

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Saturday that that would have given local prosecutors discretion when deciding whether a person charged with possessing a small amount of illegal drugs should be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. [Read more…]