California: Assembly Passes AB 266; ASA Calls It 'Step Forward For Medical Cannabis Patients'
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday announced support for AB 266, which would create a "regulatory structure" for California’s landmark medical cannabis program. Earlier on Thursday AB 266 passed the California Assembly by a margin of 60-8-12.
Last week AB 266 was merged with AB 34 and Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) was made lead author of the bill. AB 266 is co-authored by Assemblymembers Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) and Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles).
In addition to supporting AB 266 in its present form, ASA announced it will be working with the General Assembly, California State Senate, patients, and providers to find ways to further improve the bill to optimize the ultimate program that would be created.
“AB 266 works to fix a system that has been broken for almost two decades,” said Assemblymember Bonta, buying into the popular narrative that free market distribution of medicinal cannabis is somehow unacceptable. "California was the first state in the nation to approve medical cannabis with the passage of Prop 215 in 1996, but since then we as a state have stagnated, and it is time that the Legislature takes definitive action on this important issue.
"As Chair of the Assembly Health Committee I feel it is imperative that we create a viable framework for medical cannabis that preserves our core priorities and provides strong patient protections and access to their medicine,” Bonta said.
"Although California has the oldest medical marijuana program in the nation it currently lacks a comprehensive regulatory scheme, leaving it behind a number states with more recent programs that have adopted industry best practices as part of their statewide laws and regulations," according to a press release from ASA.
Americans for Safe for Access said its research has shown that regulation of dispensaries can reduce crime and community complaints, while preserving essential access for medical cannabis patients. "Additionally, members of medical cannabis community will be benefit from a greater perception of integrity among lawmakers and the public under a more robust state-level regulatory structure," ASA claimed.
“AB 266 will help put aside industry issues that distract from the benefits that patients in California get from the medical cannabis program,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA. “While enthusiastically supporting AB 266, Americans for Safe Access is supporting amendments in the licensing structure to preserve the historic diversity of the California's medical cannabis industry and allow new players to join the increasingly mature and diverse cannabis industry.”
One can only hope for preservation of the medical marijuana industry's "historic diversity," since that's exactly what's gone down the tubes after recreational cannabis legalization in Washington state, and appears to be endangered in Oregon after recreational legalization there, as well.
ASA Report: Medical Cannabis Dispensing and Local Regulation