Medical Cannabis Bill Passes Historic Hurdle

Thursday, July 16, 2015

AB 266 Passes Two Key Senate Policy Committees,4-0 and 8-1

(Sacramento, CA) - This week the Senate Committees on Governance and Finance and Health passed AB 266, a measure that for the first time in the history of California creates a comprehensive regulatory framework for the state's billion dollar medical cannabis industry. AB 266 is authored by Assemblymembers RobBonta (D-Oakland), Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale).The bill made history when it passed the Assembly last month on a vote of 62-8, marking the first time that a substantive medical cannabis bill has passed off the Assembly floor with strong bipartisan support.

"California was the first state in the nation to allow for the medical use of cannabis, leading the charge ahead of 22 other states and the District of Columbia. It has been nearly two decades since the passage of the trailblazing Proposition 215 by the people of California, and California remains the only state that lacks a comprehensive framework for the medical cannabis 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," said Assemblymember Bonta .

"Communities across California have been in need of clear, responsible guidelines for medical cannabis for nearly two decades," said Assemblymember Lackey , a 28 year veteran of the California Highway Patrol. "This bipartisan solution will help us meet that elusive goal. It will also begin to put the tools in place for law enforcement to better identify and get cannabis-impaired drivers off the road."

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."

AB 266 creates a regulatory framework for the medical cannabis industry that would require state and local licenses for medical cannabis businesses. A new Governor's Office of Medical Cannabis Regulation would oversee this multiagency licensing and regulatory effort, relying on expertise from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Public Health, and the Board of Equalization.

"With the passage of AB 266 out of two Senate committees this week, the momentum to finally resolve the issue of medical marijuana regulation continues to build," explained Assemblymember Cooley . "Throughout this process, my colleagues and I have worked to find consensus on issues of local control, public safety, and patient access. The support from our Senate colleagues continues us on that path and sends a strong message that California is trying to solve problems in a collaborative, effective, and accountable manner."

Bonta concluded, "AB 266 is the result of an unprecedented stakeholder process in which my colleagues and I brought everyone to the table, from medical cannabis businesses to law enforcement. I am honored to be a part of this bipartisan legislative collaboration making California once again a leader for our patients."

AB 266 will now be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee, convening in August.

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. In the second Extraordinary Session, Bonta Chairs the Public Health and Developmental Services Committee. 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.