Legislators Bogart Bill to Regulate Medical Marijuana

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Shying away from the escalating battle between local, state and federal authorities over medical marijuana, the sponsor of a bill to regulate and tax the drug withdrew it from consideration. It now appears dead for the year.

Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco said AB 2312, which passed the Assembly 41-28 earlier this month, was doomed to defeat in the Senate. The legislation would have created a Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement in the Department of Consumer Affairs to bring some order to what has been, at best, an uneven application of the 1996 law that removed state criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of pot by patients with a “written or oral recommendation” from their doctor that they would benefit the drug.

The law would have allowed localities to implement a sales tax on medical marijuana of up to 5%, but also included a provision allowing a city or county to ban dispensaries within its jurisdiction. That late addition to the bill lost it the support of some medical marijuana advocates. The bill would have created the Medical Marijuana Fund and applied the pot sales tax revenues to implementation and enforcement of the program.

It all would have been overseen by a nine-member board appointed by the governor, the Senate Committee on Rules, and the speaker of the Assembly. The board would have been in charge of issuing or denying registration applications, establishing fees, adopting regulations, and issuing fines and penalties. Some critics thought those duties were unsettlingly vague and gave the panel too much power.

The bill’s supporters hoped that this show of discipline by the state over what has turned into a wild proliferation of pot dispensaries in some areas would help deter the recent crackdown by U.S. Attorneys. Possession or sale of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors indicted six people on drug conspiracy and possession charges for their connections to three medical marijuana dispensaries in Southern California that the government ordered shut down last year.

Around 100 cities have taken actions to discourage dispensaries and a number of the pot shops have shut down in the wake of raids that targeted growers and sellers who had been under the impression they were operating legally.  

Ammiano, who will be termed out of the Assembly in 2014, said he planned to reintroduce the legislation next January.

–Ken Broder          


To Learn More:

Bill to Regulate and Tax Marijuana Dies in California Legislature (by Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee)

California Medical Marijuana (NORML)

California Medical Marijuana Regulation Bill Put on Hold (by Carly Schwartz, Huffington Post)

Assembly Bill 2312 (California Legislative Information)

Medical Marijuana Crackdown by Feds as State Senate Ponders Bill to Protect Dispensaries (by Ken Broder, AllGov)

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