California: Proponents Amend Marijuana Initiative To 'Protect Children,' Keep Local Control
Proponents of a statewide ballot measure to control, regulate and tax adult use of marijuana on Monday announced that they have filed consensus amendments to significantly strengthen "safeguards for children," workers, local governments and small businesses and include even stricter anti-monopoly provisions and the toughest warning label and marketing-to-kids laws in the nation.
Amendments to the measure (known as “the Adult Use of Marijuana Act”) were developed based on input and recommendations received over the last 35 days from hundreds of engaged citizens and organizations representing local government, health and policy experts, environmental leaders, small farmers and business owners, worker representatives and social justice advocates.
The amendments bring the measure even closer in line with the Lieutenant Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy and the new medical marijuana laws recently passed by a bipartisan majority of the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown (SB 643, AB 266 and AB 243).
The amendments specifically strengthen and clarify four central objectives of the AUMA measure:
1. To protect children and discourage teen drug use;
2. To maintain local control and local government authority over marijuana commercial activity;
3. To implement strong worker and labor protections for those employed in this growing industry;
4. To protect small businesses and ensure state regulators have the authority to prevent monopolies and anti-competitive practices.
“These amendments reflect a collaborative process of public and expert engagement and make an extremely strong measure even stronger,” said the measure's lead proponent, Dr. Donald O. Lyman, MD, award-winning physician and former chief of the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Control at the California Department of Public Health. “This measure now includes even more protections for children, workers, small business, and local governments while ensuring strict prohibitions on marketing to kids and monopoly practices.”
New amendments to AUMA include:
Safeguarding California’s Children
· Mandates the toughest and most explicit warning labels on marijuana products, including an American Medical Association-recommended message that marijuana use during pregnancy or breastfeeding may be harmful.
· Enhances the strict ban on advertising to minors to clarify that marketing to minors is also strictly prohibited, as is all health-related advertising for non-medical marijuana.
· Requires a comprehensive study to determine effectiveness of the packaging and labeling requirements and advertising and marketing restrictions on preventing underage access to non-medical marijuana.
· Provides funding for a public information campaign, emphasizing that marijuana remains illegal for anyone under the age of 21.
· Accelerates funding for expert outcome research on the effects of the new law, including its impact on minors and whether teen use decreases (as it has in other states with legal, regulated systems such as Colorado).
Maintaining Local Control
· Aligns with the bipartisan medical marijuana legislation to provide complete local control over non-medical marijuana businesses within their jurisdiction, including the authority to ban commercial marijuana activity by ordinance.
· Ensures that local governments which allow commercial marijuana businesses to operate have the authority to determine the time, manner and location of those businesses within their jurisdiction.
· Ensures that local governments have the authority to establish their own taxes on medical and non-medical marijuana consistent with existing state law. Explicit authority to do so is granted to counties.
· Requires state licensing authorities to take action to suspend or revoke a state marijuana business license when notified that a corresponding local license has been revoked, ensuring businesses must remain in compliance with local laws to operate.
Protecting Workers in an Expanding Industry
· Requires state regulators to set specific safety standards for drivers and vehicles that are employed in the legal commercial distribution of marijuana.
· Clarifies that the labor peace agreements included in the medical marijuana legislation will also extend to this new law.
· Clarifies that labor violations are grounds for disciplinary action against a marijuana business licensee, including potential suspension or revocation.
· Clarifies that all administrative costs of the new law must be fully funded, including reasonable costs for state agencies to oversee workplace safety.
· Mandates the state comprehensively study which workplace safety standards are necessary to fully protect marijuana workers, including against risks unique to the industry.
Preventing Monopolies and Encouraging Small Business Growth
· To allow smaller growers to establish themselves in a legal, regulated market, large cultivation licenses (as defined by the medical marijuana legislation) for non-medical marijuana will not be issued for the first five years the new law is in effect.
· Only after those first five years can large cultivation licenses be issued at the discretion of state regulators but they must include the same restrictions on vertical integration that are contained in the medical marijuana legislation.
· Strengthens opportunities for minority-owned businesses to enter the legal, regulated marijuana market.
· Sets a September 1, 2016 deadline for existing medical marijuana businesses to come into compliance with current law and qualify for priority licensing under AUMA, providing greater access for existing small businesses to enter the legal, regulated market.
· Requires public universities in California to conduct a study and issue recommendations on whether additional protections are needed to prevent unlawful monopolies or anti-competitive behavior. Additional technical amendments and suggested changes were included to provide increased clarity to state regulators.