In 2012, Norman Smith of Playa del Rey, California, died after being denied a liver transplant because he had used medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. A bill to prevent similar tragedies — AB 258 — could get an Assembly floor vote any time — possibly today.
The bill emerged from committee earlier this month on a strong 13-3 vote. Help keep up the momentum and be sure your Assembly member hears from you!
The California Legislature is also considering several bills that would impose a regulatory system on the state’s medical marijuana program. One of the bills, AB 643, emerged from committee on another strong vote of 7-0 earlier this week. While the bill contains some positive provisions, it is flawed and is in need of improvement before it is allowed to become law. With several competing bills this year, it is likely the debate over whether and how to best regulate California’s medical marijuana program will continue.
For more information about Norman Smith’s story, please watch this video from ReasonTV.
In Californiathis week,SB 1262, introduced by Sen. Lou Correa, would create a long-overdue regulatory structure for medical cannabis cultivators and dispensaries, including collectives and cooperatives. The original bill draft contained many offensive provisions, including unreasonable and possibly unlawful requirements on physicians. Fortunately, Sen. Correa removed nearly all the troubling provisions and we now have a largely workable solution.
While medical marijuana patients have protections under state law, the citizens who serve them lack a regulatory framework. This leaves them vulnerable to aggressive federal law enforcement efforts to undermine the state program. In addition, regulation can help protect the environment, avoid unauthorized access, and reduce incidents of crime and violence. After the amendments were made, the bill passed out of committee with a unanimous vote, and will be heard next by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Another bill died in committee. AB 2500 would have made everyone driving with 2 or more ng/mL of active THC in his or her system guilty of DUI. This unscientific and discriminatory bill failed to get sufficient votes to advance any further.
Both of these developments benefit medical cannabis patients in California!
First, the good news: California attorney general candidate Steve Cooley conceded the election to his opponent, Kamala Harris. While Harris may not be the most outspoken supporter of Prop 215 or medical marijuana patients, she is sure to be a better option. Cooley’s history of antagonism toward the medical marijuana field and complicity with federal law enforcement as district attorney of Los Angeles would have meant trouble for the state’s more than 350K registered patients. Disaster averted!
Unfortunately, the marijuana-hostile legal and civic environment that Cooley helped create in Southern California resulted in Los Angeles and Orange County supervisors voting to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in all unincorporated areas. Rather than use the tools at their disposal to deal with illegal dispensaries, the supervisors elected to effectively deny patients in those areas access to their medicine unless they feel like a nice long drive (assuming they are able to travel, or even get out of bed).
L.A. County patients can take one small comfort, though. It appears that higher politics has left Cooley feeling a little burned out, judging from a statement he released suggesting that this is his last term in office:
“I will complete my third term and finish my career as a professional prosecutor in the office where it began over 37 years ago,” he said.