Regulatory bills fall short but will return
The California Legislature considered but did not pass several positive bills in 2013. They can all be brought up again next year. Unfortunately, one regressive bill was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
Between them, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and Senate President Darrell Steinberg introduced three bills to clearly establish protections for medical marijuana businesses. The last bill — AB 604 — was introduced just days before the legislature adjourned following guidance by the U.S. Department of Justice, which advised federal prosecutors not to pursue medical marijuana businesses in states that have clear regulations in place. The bill was pulled from further consideration, and Asm. Ammiano will work on building broad support when the session continues in 2014. Please ask your legislators to support this long-overdue measure to regulate and protect California’s medical marijuana industry.
Meanwhile, SB 283, sponsored by Sen. Loni Hancock, would allow people who were convicted of marijuana felonies to move on with their lives by restoring their eligibility for CalFresh, the state’s food stamp program. The bill did not advance this year, but will continue to be considered in 2014.
Assemblymember Joan Buchanan's bill, AB 375, was passed by the legislature on the last day of the session and would provide a basis for schools to place a teacher on a leave of absence when he or she is accused of a criminal charge that involves assisting a student in the use of marijuana. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
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Feds' aggressive targeting of medical marijuana providers in California
Despite the aggressive actions of federal law enforcement, hope for improvement may be on the horizon. Following an August 29 memo from the 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, please email your assemblymember, state senator, Gov. Jerry Brown, and Attorney General Kamala Harris, asking that they publicly denounce federal interference with the California medical marijuana program. 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 email@example.com 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 February 2013 Field Poll found that 54% of Californians support legalizing the sale of marijuana. 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 has the fourth largest rate of marijuana arrests in the country. Let your lawmakers know it’s time California ended its marijuana prohibition!