Last Update: August 12, 2014
Medical marijuana regulatory bill in flux, currently problematic
Sen. Lou Correa’s medical marijuana regulatory bill, SB 1262, took an unfortunate turn for the worse with a recent series of amendments. In the most recently published form, the bill would be harmful to patients and businesses that serve them if it were made into law. While MPP and many other groups believe clear legal protections and regulations are long overdue, we believe the current bill should not advance unless heavily amended.
Sen. Correa’s bill — which is currently pending in Assembly Appropriations — has been amended many times since introduced earlier this year. While many changes were positive — especially early in the process — many would hurt patient access. In particular, amendments inserted by groups such as the League of California Cities and the California Police Chiefs Association are particularly unreasonable. Under the August 4 version of the bill, patients could not give excess marijuana to another patient; there is an inadequate system of access during the transition to a regulated market, which could have devastating effects on patient access; and a state agency would have broad authority to deny licenses even to qualified businesses. For a detailed look at MPP’s position on the bill, click here.
If your assemblymember is on the Assembly Appropriations Committee, please take a moment and send an email to ask that he or she oppose this bill unless it is amended. And you can sign up for MPP’s free email alerts on California to receive updates on marijuana policy reform efforts in the state.
The current legal status of marijuana in California
Under California law, possession of 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 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. And despite its reputation as being easy-going with respect to marijuana possession and use, California arrested over 21,000 people in 2012 for marijuana-related offenses. Let your lawmakers know it’s time California ended its marijuana prohibition!