Legislature considers changes to new medical marijuana law
Last update: March 31, 2016
Lawmakers this year are considering tweaks to the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). Many bills are currently in play, including AB 2614, which would protect those with criminal records from exclusion from the new regulatory system, and AB 2385 would fix a gap that could prevent businesses in Los Angeles from obtaining state licenses. But not all are positive. Sen. Mark McGuire’s SB 987 would impose a 15% tax on patient purchases of medical marijuana, and AB 2243 and AB 2169 both try to impose a tax at the wholesale level, unfairly burdening many seriously ill patients.
Meanwhile, MPP is supporting the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which will give voters the chance to end marijuana prohibition in 2016 and replace it with a more sensible system. Under the proposed initiative, marijuana would be regulated, taxed, and treated similarly to alcohol. Please support this initiative by donating to our campaign finance committee. All donations will go directly to the initiative to help ensure victory. For a quick overview of some of the key provisions of the AUMA, click here.
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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 2015 PPIC 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.