Calif. Senate approves downgrading marijuana possession; Assembly votes to restrict medical marijuana access
June 4, 2010, 8:12 pm

Yesterday, June 3, marijuana policy was on the agenda in the California State Legislature, and the results were mixed. One positive bill passed the Senate, one bad bill passed the Assembly, and one good bill was voted down in the Assembly.


Senate supports downgrading marijuana possession

In a 21-13 vote, the Senate approved S.B. 1449, which would reclassify possession of under an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. The penalty would remain a $100 fine. The bill — which is sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), a longtime champion of sensible marijuana policies — is now in the Assembly, and will soon be assigned to a committee. Please call your Assembly member in support of this bill.

If S.B. 1449 is enacted, it would ensure that people accused of simple possession would not have to go before a judge, saving a substantial amount of tax dollars. It would also stop saddling low-level marijuana offenders with criminal records. Although MPP believes this bill is a step in the right direction, making possession an infraction also has some downsides: It would also eliminate the right to a public defender and a jury trial.


Assembly votes to undermine safe access to medical marijuana

The Assembly voted 54-15 to approve A.B. 2650, which would prohibit medical marijuana dispensing collectives from operating within 600 feet of a school. It now moves to the Senate. This bill, which is sponsored by Asm. Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), usurps the authority of local cities and counties to set their own standards for medical marijuana. In addition, any restrictions on collectives should be accompanied by clearer recognition for dispensaries. MPP and our allies oppose this bill and have succeeded in making it less damaging. In its original form, the buffer was 1,000 feet and several other locations were included. A.B. 2650 also now grandfathers in dispensaries that are in localities with pre-existing ordinances that are less strict.


Bill to allow medical marijuana paraphernalia dies in Assembly

Also yesterday, A.B. 1811, sponsored by Asm. Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), was voted down in the Assembly. The bill would have allowed marijuana paraphernalia to be knowingly sold for the medical use of marijuana. Many items used for medical marijuana, such as vaporizers, have to be sold as tobacco products, and retailers are not permitted to supply information about how these products work with marijuana. Even though 74% of voters support allowing medical marijuana, the bill was defeated in a 33-36 vote, with 12 members not voting.

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