Assembly Takes Historic Step in Passing Medical Cannabis Legislation

Thursday, June 4, 2015

(Sacramento, CA) -  Today in a historic vote of 60 to 8, the California State Assembly passed AB 266, a measure that creates a comprehensive regulatory framework for medical cannabis.   AB 266 is joint authored by Assemblymembers Rob  Bonta (D-Oakland), Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), and Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles).  The vote marks the first time in recent history that a substantive medical cannabis bill has passed the Assembly floor with strong bipartisan support. 

“Today demonstrates how far the Legislature has come on the issue of medical cannabis; AB 266 truly represents an innovative, thoughtful, and much-needed approach to protect our patients and local businesses by creating a robust regulatory framework for this field,” said Assemblymember Bonta.

Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, stated, “In 1996, California became the first state in the nation to allow the use of medical cannabis after voters approved Proposition 215.  This unprecedented collaborative effort will finally, after 19 years, regulate the medical marijuana industry.  AB 266 creates a regulatory system that respects the interests of local government while still providing a consistent statewide structure.”

California, the District of Columbia, and 22 other states have now passed laws to allow the use of medical cannabis by qualified patients.  However, California still lacks a statewide framework for the medical cannabis industry.  AB 266 creates that regulatory framework and provides a dual, state and local, licensing structure for commercial medical cannabis activity.  It also establishes the Governor’s Office of Marijuana Regulation to oversee the program.  The bill includes the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Public Health, and the Board of Equalization as part of a multiagency effort for state licensing requirements and the promulgation of regulatory standards. 

“I am very pleased that the Assembly voted AB 266 out today with bipartisan support,” explained Assemblymember Cooley. “Throughout this process, my colleagues and I have worked to find consensus on issues of local control, public safety, and appropriate regulation of the medical cannabis industry. Today’s vote recognized that hard work and sends a strong message that California is trying to solve problems in a collaborative, effective, and accountable manner.”

Bonta concluded, “I am proud to work with my colleagues and stakeholders from all parts of the industry on this unprecedented effort.  I am confident that our collaborative efforts on AB 266 will successfully ensure that we establish necessary standards and protections for patients, the environment, and the public related to the medical cannabis industry.”

The Senate Rules Committee will refer AB 266 to committee later this month.

Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro. Bonta Chairs the Assembly Health Committee; the Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee; and the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color. He is also a member of the following committees: Appropriations, Budget, Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services, Joint Legislative Budget, and Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management.