Medical Marijuana bills progress in the legislature

Several bills pertaining to the creation of licensing/regulating structures around medical marijuana passed key committees this week. The only vehicle in the Senate pertaining to medical marijuana regulation, Senate Bill 643 authored by Senator McGuire (D-Sonoma County), secured passage in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Much of this bill needs to be restructured, and Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) has been working with Senator McGuire on amendments to address county concerns. Significant amendments are expected prior to the bill being passed by the Senate.

In the most dramatic move, the Assembly’s two licensing structure bills were merged into one bill at the request of the Assembly Appropriations Committee – even though each contains a different approach. Specifically, Assembly Bill 34, authored by Assemblymember Bonta (D-Oakland), failed passage; however, much of AB 34 is being incorporated into Assembly Bill 266, previously authored by Assemblymember Cooley (D-Sacramento). As such, AB 266 will now move forward, but will be dramatically restructured with Assemblymember Bonta being the lead author. RCRC is in the process of reviewing these amendments.

Finally, Assembly Bill 243, authored by Assemblymember Wood (D-Sonoma County), moved forward. This measure has two key aspects – one addressing better environmental enforcement of the cultivation of marijuana; and the other requiring certain counties to adopt ordinances requiring marijuana plant identifiers. The second aspect of this bill remains a concern for counties, and RCRC staff will continue working with Assemblyman Wood to address those concerns.

- Staff report