In a 41-28 vote Thursday, the California State Assembly passed a bill that would regulate the production and distribution of medical marijuana for qualified patients.
AB 2312, the Medical Marijuana Regulate, Control and Tax Act, was introduced earlier this year by Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and others. The bill aims to establish a state regulatory system for medical marijuana under the Department of Consumer Affairs. Under the proposal, medicinal cannabis dispensaries would become state-licensed.
The bill would also require cities and counties to allow at least one marijuana dispensary for every 50,000 residents -- unless local voters specifically approve a ban or tighter restrictions. Read the full text of the measure here.
Although California voters approved legalizing medical marijuana in the 1990s, currently pot dispensaries are banned throughout most of Riverside County, including Lake Elsinore, Wildomar and unincorporated area. The bans are not voter approved.
To date, the state has left regulation up to its localities, and there are dozens of different local ordinances regulating medical marijuana dispensaries.
"Responding to calls from local officials, the State Supreme Court and Attorney General Kamala Harris, the state legislature took a significant step today toward clarifying the often-confusing terrain of medical marijuana distribution in California," according to a news release from Americans for Safe Access, which lobbies on behalf of medical marijuana patients and is one of the members of a broad-based coalition calling itself Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM).
"We applaud the Assembly for taking leadership on statewide regulations and we hope the State Senate also does the right thing by addressing medical marijuana as a public health issue," said Don Duncan, the California director with Americans for Safe Access.
Advocates are also awaiting word on a second bill, SB 1182, which clarifies the dispensing of medicinal cannabis in California. Read about the proposal here.