California Legislature hurrying to pass marijuana regulations
August 25, 2015
California lawmakers are trying pass a wide variety of medical marijuana regulations before voters may decide whether the state legalizes recreational pot. [Mercury News]
Marijuana advocates are currently drafting multiple legalization initiatives that could appear on the California ballot. In response, lawmakers have authored a pair of bills that would create the first statewide regulations for medical marijuana growers, manufacturers and distributors. They would also regulate pot-infused products.
One of the bills, AB 266, passed the Assembly on a 62-8 vote last month. AB 266 would create a comprehensive licensing and oversight scheme, as well as the proposed Governor’s Office of Medical Cannabis Regulation.
The bill would require the California Highway Patrol to develop a way of determining who is too high to drive. It would also require the Department of Public Health to come up with rules for testing pot products for potency and toxic chemicals.
AB 266 would also require a set a of rules stating who is eligible to grow, process, transport and sell medical marijuana. Lawmakers say there must be limits on the involvement of felons and new immigrants in the state’s marijuana industry.
The California Cannabis Association, the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California cities are all supporting the bill. AB 266 has drawn widespread support in part because it would would create training standards and labor rights for industry workers, while allowing local governments to maintain the authority to ban marijuana businesses.
In 1996, California voters approved a ballot measure that allowed doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients. The initiative did not craft regulations on the production and sale of medical marijuana.
Much disagreement over the law has ensued, and the Legislature has deferred the task of adopting comprehensive medical marijuana regulations.
ACLU advocacy director Natasha Minster said lawmakers’ tones have changed as a result of the legalization discussion.
“There is real potential a legalization initiative will set the tone for regulation and taxation, and if the Legislature wants to be involved, now is the time,” Minster said.