Last Update: March 9, 2015
Regulated medical marijuana in 2015?
The California State Legislature’s 2015-2016 session is well underway, and it will again look at crafting regulations for the medical marijuana industry. So far two such bills have been introduced, and at least initially, they mirror bills from 2014. AB 26, presented by Asm. Reggie Jones-Sawyer, picks up where Asm. Ammiano’s reasonable medical marijuana regulatory bill left off after its defeat on the floor of the Assembly. The other bill, Asm. Ken Cooley’s AB 266, carries many similarities with Sen. Lou Correa’s law enforcement-friendly effort, which also fell short. It is not yet clear how far efforts will get in 2015, but both bill sponsors appear to be open to working together and with advocates to find a workable solution.
These regulatory bills are now being considered against the backdrop of a planned November 2016 voter initiative that would legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol in California. The Marijuana Policy Project of California, a political committee sponsored and administered by MPP, has joined a broad coalition of local activists, community leaders, organizations, and businesses working to pass a measure similar to the one approved by voters in Colorado in 2012.
Stay tuned, and be sure to sign up for our email alerts to stay tuned for updates!
The current legal status of marijuana in California
Under California law, possessing up to an ounce or less of marijuana is a civil infraction similar to a speeding ticket. While this is a more reasonable approach than many states take, California is still punishing tens of thousands of responsible adults for possessing a substance that is objectively safer than both alcohol and tobacco. A December 2013 Field Poll found that 55% of Californians believe marijuana should be legalized.
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 in California, they account for 16.3% of the arrests (or citations) for marijuana, while rates of usage are virtually the same between black and white populations.
It is true that California’s marijuana laws are not as draconian as some other states, but 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 supporting the state budget. And despite its reputation as being easy-going with respect to marijuana possession and use, California arrested or cited over 21,000 people in 2012 for marijuana-related offenses. Let your legislators know it’s time they stand up for taking a more humane and fiscally sound approach to marijuana policy.