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California Medical Marijuana Regulation Bill Passes State Assembly Committee

Posted on May 08, 2013 by News Admin


SAN FRANCISCO -- A bill to regulate California's billion-dollar medical marijuana industry cleared a major hurdle Tuesday when the state assembly's public safety committee voted to move it forward.

AB 473, introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), would require all pot-related entities, except for caregivers and patients, to follow rules to be created by the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.

As it stands, medical marijuana in California is "chaos," Ammiano told The Huffington Post. "It's never been regulated by the state as any other business. Cities and counties don't know what to do or what they can do. Police are unsure how to respond, and the federal actions are confusing."

Voters in 1996 made California the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes. In the years since, medical marijuana has flourished, generating more than $100 million in tax revenue each year. But in late 2011, the Obama administration launched an aggressive crackdown on California dispensaries, forcing hundreds of businesses to close and throwing thousands out of work.

Some local governments in California carefully monitor the medical marijuana industry. Others don't. Oakland and Santa Cruz, for example, have strict rules. Los Angeles is unregulated and has been called "the poster child of chaos."

U.S. attorneys "are using a lack of statewide regulation as justification," former Ammiano spokesman Quintin Mecke told HuffPost last year. "If we create regulations, we've removed every reasonable explanation on their part to justify the crackdown."

Ammiano said the U.S. crackdown shows "some attempt to overract to the bad actors by punishing the good actors." He added: "We are hoping this bill will distinguish those good actors, who are very supportive of regulation." He described bad actors as dispensary owners who operate without a permit and farmers who pollute state parks with illegal growing operations. His bill doesn't include specific regulations, but it gives Alcohol Beverage Control the authority to do so.