California assembly passes statewide dispensary regs

Posted on June 2nd, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

CaliforniaIn a 41-28 vote, the California State Assembly passed a bill May 31 to regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana for qualified patients. Responding to calls from local officials, the State Supreme Court, and Attorney General Kamala Harris, the state legislature took a significant step toward clarifying the often-confusing terrain of medical marijuana distribution in California. AB 2312, the Medical Marijuana Regulate, Control and Tax Act, was introduced earlier this year by Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and others.

"More than 15 years after Californians passed Proposition 215, patients are still in need of a commonsense approach to the production and distribution of medical marijuana," said Don Duncan, California director with Americans for Safe Access, one member of the coalition Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM). "We applaud the Assembly for taking leadership on statewide regulations and we hope the State Senate also does the right thing by addressing medical marijuana as a public health issue."

Although a majority of the hundreds of thousands of legal medical marijuana patients in California rely on dispensaries, the state had so far left regulation up to localities. There are currently more than 50 local ordinances regulating dispensaries, creating a patchwork of local laws. Restrictive ordinances have forced many people to travel long distances or use the illicit market to obtain a medication that works for them. This patchwork system has also caused confusion for public officials, and created more work for law enforcement.

CRMM—a statewide coalition of policy reform advocates, cannabis businesses, and organized labor—worked with Ammiano to introduce AB 2312. The bill was also introduced in response to calls by the California Supreme Court and the State Attorney General’s office for a sensible approach to medical marijuana that takes into account the needs of patients, local officials, law enforcement, and the public alike. A poll conducted by EMC Research shows that 77% of Californians support the a solution like AB 2312.

The nine-member appointed board created by the bill will be charged with developing, implementing, and enforcing statewide regulations. AB 2312 preserves municipal control over zoning. Significant revenue is expected from implementation of the legislation, which advocates say can help reduce some of the current financial strain in California.

The CRMM held a Unity Conference in Sacramento in May to build support for AB 2312. More than 300 patients and policy advocates visited the Capitol, meeting with each member of the state legislature to urge them to pass the bill. AB 2312 will now proceed to the state Senate, where it must pass out of committee by July 6, and come to a Senate floor vote by Aug. 31. (ASA, May 31)



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