California medical marijuana’s situation again still seems stuck in neutral as a regulatory bill advances even while an Oakland institution prepares to announce its fate.
The Assembly Public Safety Committee voted 4-2 on Tuesday to pass AB 2312 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, which would create the first statewide regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry. The bill now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“Only by regulating medical cannabis will California be able to regain control and ensure safe access for patients,” Ammiano said in a news release. “Effective regulation benefits everyone – patients, providers, doctors and law enforcement. Passing AB 2312 is an opportunity for the Legislature to defend Prop. 215 by regulating and controlling an industry that has the clear support of the people of California.”
AB 2312 would create a nine-member Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement with the Department of Consumer Affairs to enact and enforce regulations on growing, processing, manufacturing, testing, transporting, distributing and selling marijuana and marijuana products for medical purposes; the board. It also would authorize local taxes on medical cannabis up to 2.5 percent.
Don Duncan, California director of Americans for Safe Access, said police, lawmakers and patients “want clarity about what is legal under state law. AB 2312 answers their questions and provides a path towards the sensible, well-regulated medical marijuana program the voters wanted when they approved Proposition 215.”
Yet even if the Legislature passes this bill (where others, including earlier ones by Ammiano, have failed), it would put California further at odds with federal law’s total ban on marijuana.
Federal agents raided Oaksterdam University a few weeks ago, casting doubt upon the future of this and other marijuana-related businesses founded and owned by Richard Lee, who largely bankrolled an unsuccessful 2010 ballot measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Lee will hold news conferences tomorrow – live at the school at 11 a.m., and then a national press call at 1 p.m. – to discuss his plans and the fate of his businesses.
Besides Lee, those scheduled to speak include former state Sen. John Vasconcellos, who helped draft the state’s current regulations; Americans for Safe Access Executive Director Steph Sherer; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 International Vice President Ron Lind; and representatives from local elected officials’ offices.
It’s a run-up to a national day of action this Friday, April 20, which will include an 11:30 a.m. protest outside the federal building on Oakland’s Clay Street.