Agreement Reached on Historic Medical Marijuana Bill

Thursday, September 10, 2015

California State Assembly establishes first-of-its-kind framework to regulate the medical marijuana industry in California; AB 266 & AB 243 ensure patient access, protect the environment, public safety and public health

(Sacramento, CA) – Today the California State Assembly reached a historic agreement on a comprehensive regulatory framework for the state's billion dollar medical cannabis industry that will be placed in AB 266 and AB 243. AB 266 is authored by Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), while AB 243 is authored by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg).

This is the first time in the history of California that a medical marijuana regulatory framework has been agreed to by the California State Assembly, the California State Senate, and the Governor’s Office. 

“AB 266 is the result of an unprecedented stakeholder process in which my colleagues and I brought everyone to the table, from medical marijuana businesses to law enforcement and patient advocates, to create a comprehensive regulatory framework for the state’s billion dollar medical marijuana industry,” explained lead author Assemblymember Bonta.  “My office and the offices of my joint authors have spent thousands of hours holding stakeholder meetings to refine the bill and incorporate recommendations from stakeholders as well as Assembly leadership and the administration.”

California was the first state in the nation to allow for the medical use of marijuana with the passage of Proposition 215 nearly two decades ago, leading the charge ahead of 22 other states and the District of Columbia. However, California still that lacks a comprehensive regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry. AB 266 will fulfill the will of the voters by creating a regulatory framework to ensure patient access, as well as to protect the environment, public safety, and public health.

Assemblymember Jim Wood authored a companion piece to AB 266. “The medical marijuana industry has expanded rapidly and without check in my district because direction from the State has been absent.  This long overdue direction is finally closer than ever.  I am thrilled that AB 243, which is focused specifically on the needs of the north coast, will serve as the foundation of the cultivation language in this year’s marijuana package.”

“California is in dire need of a strong bipartisan consensus to manage medical marijuana,” said Assemblymember Lackey, a 28-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol.  “With this bill we are demonstrating that we can bring solutions to complex issues. I am proud that this will pave the way for a comprehensive study of strategies to cut down on marijuana-impaired driving which is a growing problem nationwide. AB 266 will make California a leader in drugged driving identification and prevention.”

Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer stated, "In 1996, California became the first state in the nation to allow the use of medical marijuana 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."

AB 266 creates a regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry that would require state and local licenses for medical marijuana businesses. A new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation would oversee this multiagency licensing and regulatory effort, relying on expertise from the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health.

Assemblymember Cooley commended the historic nature of the bill. “AB 266 is a historic bill.  It is history-making as policy for its breakthroughs in regulation, public safety, local control and patient access. It is historic too for its method -- active listening by a team of lawmakers and staff who, having opened the door to all groups connected to a devilishly complex topic, find a common center supporting consensus. AB 266 exemplifies ‘never-say-die’ lawmaking; its passage makes it 2015’s Little Engine That Could!” 

Bonta concluded, “On the first day of session, the Assembly sent a clear message that this would be the year to regulate medical marijuana. Today we fulfilled that promise. I am honored to be a part of this bipartisan legislative collaboration making California once again a leader for our patients."

AB 266 will be referred by the Senate Rules committee to a policy committee shortly.