Session ends with modest improvements to medical marijuana law, no new taxes
Last update: September 13, 2016
The 2015-2016 session wrapped up, and this year’s slate of marijuana-related bills included both good and bad bills. For the most part, the better bills passed, while the negative ones fell short. Included in the list of positives is AB 2516, which establishes a new category of small, “cottage” class of business license, and AB 2385, which closes a loophole in the current law that could have prevented dispensaries in L.A. from obtaining state licenses. Fortunately, harmful efforts to impose taxes on medical marijuana patients fell short.
Attention now focuses more fully on 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 study released by the Drug Policy Foundation reports that despite the reduction in penalties, state law enforcement still arrested over half a million people in the past 10 years on marijuana-related charges, a huge number of which are minorities.
The report highlights one of the most tragic failures in the war on marijuana — how hard it impacts racial minorities. In 2013, the ACLU released its own report looking specifically at how African Americans are treated in the war on marijuana entitled, “The War on Marijuana in Black and White.” The report showed 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.