In California, two cannabis reform bills have had different fates. First up, the state Assembly voted to strengthen the power of cities to regulate medical marijuana. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield of Los Angeles says that the ambiguity in California over who has authority over the marijuana collectives has led to higher crime and illegal sales.
He introduced AB1300 that would allow cities and local governments to make decisions over locations, licensing, taxation, hours and other rules regarding medical marijuana distribution.
The bill is feared by collective operators in cities that have taken a stand against their industry. With the new power given to municipalities with AB1300, some cities may sue dispensaries out of business, like the many collectives in LosAngeles that have been “out of compliance” since they opened their doors, according to the city.
The bill was passed by a 53-1 margin and has been handed over to the Senate. The lone dissenter on the vote was Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco who wanted the bill to include the term dispensaries, hoping that adding the term would help add legitimacy to storefront operations which have been the target of federal raids.
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AB1017 that would have reduced the criminal penalties for smaller amounts of marijuana cultivation from a mandatory felony to one that would mean the DA would have the option of charging a suspect with a misdemeanor in some cases, has failed. That bill that was sponsored by Assemblyman Ammiano fell in a 36 to 24 vote.
Dale Gieringer, the Director of California NORML said that with the state under Court order to reduce it’s prison population, it is irresponsible to maintain present penalties for non-violent drug offenses. He says it makes no sense to keep growing marijuana a felony when assault, battery and petty theft are all misdemeanors. He accused lawmakers of caving to the state’s law enforcement establishment that has a vested interest in maximizing drug crime.