Last Update: March 17, 2014

Marijuana bills under consideration in 2014

Several bills introduced in the California Legislature last year continue to be considered this year, while others have been proposed more recently. Assembly Member Tom Ammiano’sAB 604, which carried over from last year, would protect and regulate medical marijuana businesses. The passage of this bill is particularly important in light of an August 2013 memo by the U.S. Department of Justice advising federal prosecutors not to pursue marijuana businesses in states that have clear regulations in place. Asm. Ammiano has vowed to continue building broad support this year. Please ask your legislators to support this long-overdue measure to regulate and protect California’s medical marijuana industry.

A new bill introduced this year by Sen. Lou Correa, SB 1262, would serve a similar role to AB 604 by directing the Department of Public Health to regulate and license medical marijuana businesses. It would also impose quality assurance standards and testing requirements. While this bill is supported by some law enforcement officials and the League of California Cities, it contains offensive provisions related to minors and physicians, including requiring doctors to make recommendations about the amount of marijuana patients may consume, which is not allowed under federal law.

Another new bill this year is AB 1588, introduced by Assembly Member Connie Conway. This bill would increase the distance between storefront businesses and schools from the 600 feet limitation to 1,000 feet. Meanwhile, a harmful bill introduced early in the session this year is AB 2500, sponsored by Assembly Member Frazier. This bill would establish a “zero-tolerance” DUI law, in which it would be illegal for any person to drive with “any detectible amount” of THC in his or her system. Such laws are not based on any science and would make criminals out of individuals who are not impaired.

Finally, a bill we tracked last year, SB 1029, has been re-introduced this year. This positive bill would restore state food stamp eligibility for those individuals who are currently denied access to the state assistance program because of a history of one or more marijuana-related offenses.

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Feds' aggressive targeting of medical marijuana providers in California

In states with clear state regulations and licensing, the federal government has not interfered with medical marijuana providers complying with state laws in recent years. Unfortunately, California’s medical marijuana laws are far murkier than most, and even some model collectives have been targeted by asset forfeiture and other federal aggression. However, hope for improvement may be on the horizon. Following an August 29 memo from the U.S. Department of Justice, many hope that California can implement a regulatory framework for business that will stop raids against businesses that are in clear compliance with state law. 

If you live in California, email your assembly member and senator and ask for their support for regulatory legislation. For more information on how you can help advocate against these developments, please see MPP's "What You Can Do to Oppose the Federal Crackdown on Medical Marijuana" handout.

California's medical marijuana ID card program

Visit our FAQ page to learn more about California's medical marijuana ID card program. Sutter and Colusa counties are still not issuing state ID cards. If you live in one of these rogue counties, contact to find out how you can help bring this important program to your area.

The current legal status of marijuana in California

Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is considered a civil infraction similar to a speeding ticket. Nonetheless, a December 2013 Field Poll found that 55% favor legalization. Meanwhile, responsible adults are still being arrested or cited at an alarming rate for possession of a substance that is objectively safer than both alcohol and tobacco.

One of the most tragic failures in the war on marijuana is how hard it impacts racial minorities. The ACLU’s 2013 report entitled “The War on Marijuana in Black and White” shows that where blacks represent 6.7% of the population, they are 16.3% of the arrests for marijuana, while rates of usage are virtually the same between black and white populations. 

While California’s marijuana laws are not as draconian as some other states, the state is still wasting precious resources on citing, arresting, and prosecuting marijuana offenders, while ensuring the profits of marijuana sales go to criminals instead of responsible businesses and the state’s coffers. The ACLU report also shows that despite its reputation as being easy-going with respect to marijuana possession and use, in 2010, California had the fourth largest rate of marijuana arrests in the country. Let your lawmakers know it’s time California ended its marijuana prohibition!







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