April 18 – On April 26th, the California Assembly Public Safety Committee will be hearing Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s bill AB 1017 to downgrade marijuana cultivation from a mandatory felony to a wobbler (that is, optional misdemeanor). AB 1017 is sponsored by the new District Attorney from Mendocino County, David Eyster, with support from other north coast officials who believe that it’s a waste of law enforcement resources to prosecute minor cultivation cases as felonies. The bill is a good first step; Cal NORML would prefer to see personal use cultivation decriminalized entirely:
The committee will also be hearing AB 1300 by Assemblymember Blumenfield, which tries to clarify state laws regarding the power of local government to regulate medical marijuana collectives. The present version of the bill suffers technical problems that need to be fixed.
Also on April 26th, the Senate Public Safety Committee will be hearing Mark Leno’s bill SB 676 to legalize production of industrial hemp. The bill has already been approved by the Agriculture
Committee by a vote of 5-1.
UPDATE 4/19: A forfeiture reform bill will also be heard on April 26: A.B.
639 by Assemblyman Chris Norby. The bill is the same as the one Sen. Vasconcellos sponsored in 2000. CalNORML has written in support of Norby’s bill.
On April 27th, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee will be hearing a pair of bills aimed at regulating medical cannabis dispensaries and collectives:
(1) SB 847, the Medical Cannabis Licensing Act by Sen. Lou Correa, would establish a comprehensive statewide licensing system for production and distribution of marijuana. SB 847 offers a potential workable framework for state regulation, but has serious problems that need to be fixed (for example, it would require licensing of individual patients and small-scale, not-for-profit collective grows).
(2) SB 626,the Cannabis Certification and Regulation Act, by Sen. Calderon, would require distributors and growers of medical marijuana to register and have their products certified by the State Board of Equalization. Extensive records would have to be kept, and wholesalers would have to pre-pay a portion of the retail sales tax. SB 626 includes NO guarantee that collectives which complied with the law would be exempt from prosecution for sales, cultivation, etc. Cal NORML believes that SB 626 provides inadequate protections for collectives and offers an unworkable scheme for state regulation.