A bill which would have regulated California’s medical marijuana industry has died due to a lack of support in the state Senate.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano called off a scheduled Senate committee vote on his medical marijuana regulation legislation on Monday, acknowledging that he was short on votes ahead of a July deadline, reports Torey Van Oot at the Sacramento Bee.
“Certainly in counting noses, the noses weren’t there, even in committee,” Ammiano (D-San Francisco) said of the Businesses, Professions, and Economic Development Committee.
According to supporters of Assembly Bill 2312, updates are needed to California’s 16-year-old medical marijuana laws to protect lawful growers, sellers and patients in the wake of federal raids and increased scrutiny from local authorities.
|Americans for Safe Access|
|Assemblymember Tom Ammiano: “There is no doubt that my colleagues understand the need for this legislation”|
Monday’s decision, though, kills any chances for a resolution this year, according to observers. Legislation which would have protected some marijuana distributors from prosecution died on the Senate floor earlier this year, and a drive to qualify a medical marijuana regulation initiative for the statewide ballot didn’t attract the money it needed to succeed.
Ammiano said he’s decided to allow the committee to hold more hearings and issue a report after the legislative session adjourns.
While the bill “represents my best effort to regulate this industry that has existed in a patchwork of regulations and laws for the past 15 years,” Ammiano said, more study could create an even better bill.
“There is no doubt that my colleagues understand the need for this legislation, and I have a lot of faith in this committee that we can hammer out a well-balanced regulatory policy during the fall to answer calls from local governments, law enforcement including our Attorney General, patients, and the public to enact a highly regulated system for medical marijuana and provide a clear set of rules for everybody,” Ammiano said.
The bill had made it out of the California Assembly earlier this month on a 41-28 vote. It would have created a state Bureau of Medical Marijuana Enforcement to provide oversight of the medicinal cannabis industry.
It would also allow local governments to tax marijuana products, which made it unpopular with some dispensary owners.
Marijuana advocates also didn’t like the fact that late amendments were added to the bill which would allow city councils and county boards of supervisors to ban dispensaries, reports David Downs of the East Bay Express. Patient advocates in battleground counties where safe access though dispensary storefronts has been eliminated said that such bans are a deal-breaker.
Law enforcement types didn’t like it either. State law enforcement associations opposed to the bill claimed the measure was “really a giant permission slip for medical marijuana stores to operate in a virtual unfettered manner.”
Don Duncan, executive director at medical marijuana patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said the bill would be back in one form or another.
“Many good bills take more than a year to pass,” Duncan wrote to ASA members Monday afternoon. “We need to make sure that taxation, if necessary, is limited; and we need to make it difficult for cities and counties to ban patients’ associations outright.”