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Lawmakers And Advocate Propose Medical Marijuana Law Changes

Jeff Chiu / File / AP

This Feb. 1, 2011 file photo shows medical marijuana clone plants at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif.

Jeff Chiu / File / AP

Authors of California’s medical marijuana law say it contains an error. It requires local governments to pass their own new rules by March 1st. Legislative staff say at least 19 cities have passed bans on the industry, rather than rush new rules.

"I just think it’s incumbent upon us to repeal that date, which is unfortunate. It's pushing a lot of this activity," says Assemblyman Ken Cooley.

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill to remove the date.

It could be the first change to the sweeping law Governor Jerry Brown signed in December, which requires rules for growing, selling and taxing cannabis. It’s the first statewide oversight since voters approved medical marijuana two decades ago.
 
"The biggest issue for our organization was the restriction that allowed localities to restrict the non-commercial production of marijuana by a patient," said Tamar Todd of the Drug Policy Alliance. She spoke at a roundtable set up by a marijuana trade group.

But passing the law required a fragile coalition of industry, advocates, local government, and law enforcement. Major changes could fracture it.

"It’s important to distinguish is something a cleanup or is it a measure advancing an advocacy agenda?" said law enforcement lobbyist John Lovell, also on the panel.

Panelists agreed a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana use could complicate the state’s efforts to write the new regulations.