Emergency Marijuana Rule Fix Signed by California Governor

Gov. Jerry Brown signed an emergency bill that resulted from a legislative drafting error that had dozens of cities across California scrambling to enact bans on the cultivation of medical marijuana. marijuana1.jpg

AB21, introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), is an amendment to the medical marijuana reforms the state passed in September. There was a provision in that legislation that gave sole power to the state to license marijuana growers in jurisdictions that didn’t have some type of ban on the books by March 1, 2016 that expressly outlawed or allowed cannabis cultivation.

That sent dozens of states racing to pass bans on all commercial cultivation of the drug in their municipalities just in the last three months. Dozens more were slated to take similar action in the coming weeks. They did not want to cede total power on this issue to the state.

But the deadline on the issue was never supposed to come so soon. As Wood explained to reporters, that early deadline was an error. It will be in March – of 2018. At that time, the state will begin licensing commercial marijuana cultivators. Because the measure had already been approved in the closing hours of the previous legislative session, lawmakers had to rush to enact an emergency bill to correct the error.

Now, Wood says, municipalities will have the opportunity to approach the issue with more careful thought, rather than a mere knee-jerk reaction. This should involve extensive engagement with the local community, to determine what their concerns and priorities are.

So as our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers understand it, the concern wasn’t so much for the fact that marijuana cultivation was being banned, Wood said. It was the fact that these measures were being taken without input from the relevant stakeholders.

Medicinal marijuana has been legal in California for 20 years now. However, it was only last year that legislators took action to create a framework that allows for a state-run licensing and operating rules for those in the industry. The players include marijuana dispensaries, cultivators, product manufacturers and others.

Without clear guidance from the state, cities and counties have passed a mish-mash of ordinances and regulations and bans that have been the subject of a substantial number of legal challenges. It has also opened California dispensary owners and collectives to prosecution by the federal government. Even when President Barack Obama promised the Justice Department wouldn’t actively pursue those who were following reasonable state regulations, those operating in California were still a target because the state-level laws were weak, and local measures varied so greatly.

Now, the state departments of consumer affairs, health and agriculture are hammering out a draft of regulations that newly-licensed cannabis cultivators would have to follow. That will be proposed to lawmakers likely some time next year.

In November of this year, voters will be asked to consider a ballot initiative that would allow the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

It’s not clear whether cities that had scheduled votes on the bans will now cancel those votes or whether they will proceed with them as planned.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.

Additional Resources:
California gov OKs emergency fix to statewide marijuana regulations, Feb. 3, 2016, Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
New Statewide Regs Push for Local Bans on Medical Marijuana, Feb. 3, 2016, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog

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