CALIFORNIA SENATE PASSES STEINBERG BILL TO CLARIFY LEGALITY OF DISPENSARIES
SACRAMENTO May 20 - The California Senate approved a bill to clarify the state's law protecting medical marijuana collectives. The bill, SB 439 by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (Sacramento), protects collectives and cooperatives that operate in compliance with the Attorney General's guidelines, and makes it clear that their workers can receive compensation for their labor and expenses.
"SB 439 is a welcome step towards implementing Prop. 215's mandate for a safe and affordable access system for patients," said California NORML director Dale Gieringer in support of the bill.
A companion medical marijuana bill, AB 473 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, is currently awaiting action in the Assembly. AB 473 would establish a uniform statewide system to regulate production, manufacture, distribution and transportation of medical marijuana, similar to that in Colorado. In its present form, AB 473 would set up a new division in the Alcoholic Beverages Commission to deal with medical marijuana. It would not override the Supreme Court's Riverside ruling allowing local governments to ban dispensaries.
Further amendments are expected to both SB 439 and AB 473 as they proceed through the legislature.
Medical marijuana advocates, including Cal NORML, hope that passage of AB 473 and SB 439 will protect the medical cannabis industry from further federal raids. The Dept. of Justice has generally respected state-established medical marijuana distribution systems in Colorado, New Mexico, Maine, and elsewhere, while running roughshod in states that lack them, such as California and Washington.
SB 439 was approved on a 22-12 vote. All of the "aye" votes came from Democrats; the only Democrat to vote "no" was Sen. Ted Lieu (Torrance).