Assemblymembers Join Patient Advocates, Local Government, Labor, and Business to Urge Governor to Sign Historic Medical Marijuana Legislation

Thursday, September 17, 2015

(Oakland, CA) Today on the steps of the State Building in Oakland, Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) held a press conference to urge Governor Jerry Brown to sign a trio of medical marijuana bills that passed the Legislature last week. Bonta, lead author on one of the bills, AB 266, was joined by two of his joint authors, Assemblymembers Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), along with a strong coalition of supporters from local government, patient advocacy groups, labor, and the medical marijuana industry.

“We are here today to urge Governor Brown to approve the strong, comprehensive regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry that my colleagues and I sent to him last week,” stated Assemblymember Bonta. “With this legislation, the ‘wild west’ of the medical marijuana industry will be reined in and all of California will benefit—from patients, who will now have more assurances that their products are safe, to law enforcement, who will now have a foundation for identifying drugged drivers in order to protect the public, to the environment, which will be protected from neglect, destruction, and water diversion, to the industry itself, which will now be able to come out of the shadows and participate confidently as state-recognized businesses contributing to the economy.”

The trio of bills which passed the Legislature last week include AB 266, AB 243, and SB 643. Together they mark the furthest legislation has ever gone in the state to establish a soup-to-nuts regulatory framework for medical marijuana. Bonta explained that AB 266 is the result of an unprecedented stakeholder process in which he and his colleagues brought everyone to the table, from medical marijuana businesses and law enforcement to patient advocates and labor organizations, to create a comprehensive regulatory framework for the state’s billion dollar medical marijuana industry. “We spent thousands of hours holding meetings to develop and refine the bill and incorporate recommendations from stakeholders as well as Assembly leadership and the Administration,” Bonta explained.

Assemblymember Ken Cooley stated, “With the passage of AB 266, the Legislature took a historic step to strongly regulate medical marijuana and ensure patient access and protection. I am proud of the work we have done and look forward to the Governor signing these important bills.”

Nate Bradley, Executive Director, of the California Cannabis Industry Association, explained why the medical cannabis industry strongly supports the new regulatory framework. “After 20 years without statewide regulations, the Legislature has taken an important first step in creating a legal framework for medical cannabis. The industry wants to be regulated. We want the recognition, safety, and control that regulation will provide. We ask that the Governor sign these bills and help turn California’s unregulated medical cannabis market into the thriving, tax-paying, job-creating industry it was always destined to become.”

Assemblymember Tom Lackey, the only Republican author of AB 266, discussed the significance of the historic bipartisan partnership that was forged this year. “Traditionally, Republicans balk at even addressing medical marijuana, but I was sent to Sacramento to tackle tough problems and craft sensible bipartisan solutions. As a 28-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol, I personally observed an increase in stoned driving after the passage of Proposition 215. No question about it. For 20 years, lawmakers have been unsuccessful at curbing drugged driving. AB 266 helps pave the way for law enforcement to develop strategies to identify impaired drivers. Just this month, Colorado released a report showing nearly 1 out of 5 car crash deaths in 2014 were marijuana related. With legalization initiatives circulating, we would be foolish not to address this public safety red flag right now.”

Assemblymember Bonta concluded, “Nearly 20 years ago with the passage of Proposition 215, California led the county on the issue of medical marijuana. Now is the time for California to once again lead the nation with a strong state regulatory framework for medical marijuana. My colleagues and I urge Governor Brown to sign these bills this year to ensure our state has the necessary protections for our patients, our environment and the general public.”

Visit this link for the text of AB 266.