Nearly two decades after California voters legalized medical marijuana, state lawmakers appear more ready than ever before to regulate it.
Efforts to regulate medical marijuana have repeatedly stalled in the California Legislature. But a potential 2016 ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana is driving interest groups and lawmakers to finally work something out. A bill passed two legislative committees Wednesday on bipartisan votes.
“We think we have the right balance between state uniformity and local control,“ says Democratic Asm. Rob Bonta. “We also think we’re making important and significant steps to maximize patient access.”
The measure is supported by local governments, law enforcement agencies, a labor union and some marijuana advocacy groups. But other marijuana groups and the ACLU still oppose the measure because they don’t like how much power cities and counties would have.
“Local control and effective statewide regulation don’t go together,” says Michael Green with the Fresno Cannabis Association.
Under the proposal, state agencies would oversee their specific regulatory areas, such as agriculture and public health. A new Governor’s Office of Medical Cannabis Regulation would coordinate the state’s efforts.