Speaker Atkins credits Assembly members, governor, with compromise to create historic medical marijuana legislationAround the City, Breaking News, Top Highlights Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
SAN DIEGO – Today, Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) credited Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) for negotiating legislation with Gov. Brown and bringing the state to the verge of finally having medical marijuana regulations in place. Bonta and Wood, two of the lead authors of the legislation, joined Atkins, along with a strong coalition of supporters from law enforcement, local government, patient advocacy groups, labor and the medical marijuana industry, at a morning news conference at the Hall of Justice during the countdown to final action on the bills by the governor.
Speaker Atkins, whose leadership was instrumental in crafting the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, including AB 266, described the need to regulate the medical marijuana industry. “It has been nearly 20 years since California legalized the use of medical marijuana in California. And the industry has been unregulated during that time. Too much is at stake to let the medical marijuana industry continue on without clear direction. That’s why from the very first day of the legislative session, the Assembly sent a clear message: this is the year we will pass a smart and comprehensive framework to regulate the industry. With the proposals currently on the governor’s desk, the Assembly fulfilled our commitment.”
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 lacks a comprehensive regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry. The three bills that the Legislature sent to Gov. Brown include AB 266, AB 243, and SB 643. Together they mark the furthest legislation has ever gone in the state to establish regulations for medical marijuana to ensure patient access, as well as to protect the environment, public safety and public health.
Assemblymember Rob Bonta explained the historic impact that the proposed regulations will have in the state. “The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act will usher in a new era for California. If the Governor signs the act, patients will have more assurances that their products are safe; law enforcement will have a foundation to identify drugged drivers and increased funding to protect the public; the environment will be protected from neglect, destruction, and water diversion; and the medical marijuana industry itself will be able to come out of the shadows and receive the same protections under the law as other state-licensed businesses, creating jobs and contributing to the economy.”
Assemblymember Jim Wood authored AB 243, 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.”
The Assemblymembers were joined by David Bejarano, Chula Vista Police Chief and President of the California Police Chiefs Association. “California is the only state that permits the use of medical cannabis in the absence of state-wide regulations. This will no longer be the case if the package of bills is signed. AB 266, AB 243, and SB 643 contain essential provisions to protect public health and public safety while ensuring patient access. This package is a result of a multi-year effort by the California State Assembly, Senate, and Administration and we are proud of the medical cannabis regulatory package on the Governor’s desk.”
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.”
Speaker Atkins concluded, “I am confident that with these bills, we have created a medical marijuana framework with the necessary safeguards to protect Californians.”
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