AB 266

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California: Gov. Jerry Brown Says Little, Does Lots On Medical Marijuana Regulation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

California voters legalized medical marijuana via Prop 19 back in 1996, but in the almost two decades that have followed, state politicians have either criticized the state's cannabis trade or ignored it.

But with the Legislature now crafting rules to govern the medicinal cannabis industry, Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown looks to be the most powerful man in the state when it comes to that industry's future, reports Chris Roberts at SF Weekly.

Back when Gov. Brown was mayor of Oakland, that city became the first in the state (closely followed by San Francisco) to regulate the nascent medical marijuana trade. That city crafted its rules back in 2004, but the rule-making process had become deadlocked, with nobody able to agree on the number of dispensaries allowed in the city -- until Mayor Brown entered the room.

There would be four dispensaries, Brown said, and then rattled off what would become Oakland's precedent-setting dispensary ordinance, before abruptly exiting the meeting.

"He said, 'Here's what you need to do,' -- and then he left the room," said Dale Sky Jones, chairwoman of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, a group pushing to legalize recreational marijuana on California's 2016 ballot.

California: Record-Breaking 13 Bills In Legislature Dealing With Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A record-breaking 13 bills are in the California Legislature this year dealing with marijuana, and most of them deal specifically with medicinal cannabis. Some of the bills would be quite damaging, including legislation that would criminalize some types of cultivation and concentrate manufacturing.

The bill with the most far-reaching consequences is AB 266, according to activist Lanny Swerdlow of the BlogTalkRadio.com show "Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense." According to Swerdlow, this bill is an attempt to put some state controls on California's patchwork of local regulations.

The bill would create a new Governor's Office of MMJ Regulation to oversee and coordinate three new MMJ regulatory divisions:
1) The Department of Food and Agriculture for cultivation;
2) Public Health for product safety and labeling; and
3) The Board of Equalization for licensing.

The major action, according to Swerdlow, would be by the Board of Equalization acting in coordination with other state agencies to write and enforce regulations for commercial medical marijuana distribution, and to issue provisional licenses for medicinal cannabis organizations, contingent on local licensing approval.

AB 266 also would prioritize enforcement against doctors accused of writing inappropriate medical marijuana recommendations, would create an apprenticeship program for the medicinal cannabis industry, would authorize additional local taxation, and more.

California: Assembly Passes AB 266; ASA Calls It 'Step Forward For Medical Cannabis Patients'

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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.

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