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Ammiano: No marijuana legalization bill in 2014

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 at 4:34 pm in Assembly, marijuana, Tom Ammiano.

With two marijuana legalization ballot measures already seeking petition signatures and two more under review by the state attorney general, a lawmaker who’s been a longtime legalization supporter says this isn’t the right year for California to take the plunge. (See update below.)

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, believes the Golden State’s lawmakers should watch, wait and learn from the experiences of Washington and Colorado, which already have legalized marijuana. Meanwhile, he said, he’ll carry a bill again to create a regulatory structure for medical marijuana so patients have a safe supply.

Here’s his full statement:

Tom Ammiano“It’s clear to me – as we work to pass smart marijuana laws – that momentum is growing. If the critical mass has not been reached, it looks very close when the President of the United States recognizes the negative effects of our excessive laws against cannabis, as he did in his recent New Yorker interview. We can’t afford to spend these resources when the only result is the loss of so much human potential. As President Obama suggested, we can’t afford a system that disproportionately falls on the poor.

“Another sign of momentum: the recent California legislative analyst’s evaluation of two marijuana legalization initiatives showing that they would save tens of millions of dollars and generate significant revenues. Although my focus has been on medical cannabis for those who need it, I have always been a supporter of legalization. Some have suggested we have to see what happens with legalization in Washington and Colorado before we act.

“No. We already know that what we’re doing here in California is not working. We can’t perpetuate problems while we wait. Let’s watch Washington and Colorado, but we have to keep California moving ahead.

“This year, I will again have legislation to create a regulatory structure for medical marijuana. Nearly two decades after voters legalized cannabis for those who have a medical need, we still see a chaotic environment of prosecutions, threats and confusing court decisions. Having lived through the worst years of the AIDS epidemic, I have seen what a lifesaver cannabis can be for those who are sick.

“We need to have a regulatory structure to make sure that patients have a safe supply, free of criminal influence. We also need this to ensure that growers are environmentally responsible, and to make sure that medical recommendations are based on real needs, not some doctor’s profit motive.

“I will continue to work with all responsible parties to make sure this is the best bill we can offer and one that we will pass this year. This is the time to strike.”

UPDATE @ 12:26 P.M. WEDNESDAY: I misunderstood Ammiano’s intent. Spokesman Carlos Alcala says Ammiano “supports legalization, and thinks it is time, but does not see that as an option in the Legislature. He is focused on medical marijuana regulation in the Legislature.”

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  • RRSenileColumnist

    Smokin’ Tom probably knows many more HIV dudes than I, but the handful I’ve known never praised marijuana’s soothing powers. Bottom line, in SF just about anybody can receive a “prescription” for pot without much trouble. Are pot laws enforceable in a place like SF? Tom rightly supposes not, then comes up with fancy reasons to justify ignoring pot use.

  • diditweetthat

    I do believe that Tom is correct, but we should also be looking PAST medical. We are at the tipping point.

    I suggest a well regulated system with different types of license categories for Manufacture, Compounding, Food Creation, Distribution, MUCH LIKE ALCOHOL. Well regulated businesses, licensed and responsible.

    This is what the feds want to be assured that they don’t need to intervene.

    THEN when marijuana is finally legalized, the system could be broadened to include recreational use and and a “seed to consumer” system to ensure accountability and safety.

    Really, this is nothing new, it’s just something that at one time, too many people didn’t want, and in the process of not ding the right thing, got all of the bad effects and NONE of the good.

  • JohnW

    420th Amendment to the Constitution: A well regulated High, being necessary to the forbearance of a dysfunctional State, the right of the people to keep and smoke Weed, shall not be infringed.