Drug Law

California Assembly Committee Votes to Legalize Marijuana

| by NORML

By Paul Armentano

Lawmakers on the California Assembly, Committee on Public Safety, voted 4 to 3 today in favor of Assembly Bill 390: The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act — which seeks to legalize the production, distribution, and personal use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. The vote is first time since 1913, when California became one of the first states in the nation to criminalize the use and possession of marijuana, that lawmakers have called for the repeal of cannabis prohibition.

“Today’s vote marks the first time in nearly a century that California lawmakers have reassessed this failed criminal policy,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “Any risks presented by the use of marijuana by adults falls within the ambit of choice we should permit individuals in a free society. It’s time replace the failings of marijuana prohibition with a policy of legalization, regulation and education. Today’s vote is a significant, albeit first step in this direction.”

Further Committee votes on AB 390 are unlikely to take place this session because of legislative calendar restraints. However, the bill’s sponsor, San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, said that he would likely reintroduce a similar version of the bill later this month.

Registered supporters for the measure included: the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the California Public Defenders Association, among others.

Registered opponents of the bill included: the California Fraternal Order of Police, the California Narcotics Officers Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the California Peace Officers’ Association, and the California District Attorneys Association.

Voting ‘yes’ on the bill were Ammiano, Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. Voting no were Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Gardena (Los Angeles County), Assemblyman Danny Gilmore, R-Hanford (Kings County) and Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills (San Bernardino County).

Archived footage of today’s historic vote is available on the California Channel here.