Written by Kenzo
It was the California State Assembly which approved a bill on Thursday, which may have possibly made California the first ‘sanctuary state’ for medical cannabis patients and care-givers. This amidst much uncertainty with regards to the current administrations’ stance on Medical and Recreational cannabis-use respectively. This bill is expected to bar state and local law enforcement agencies, absent of a judge’s order, from aiding the federal drug enforcement agency in the pursuit of medical cannabis patients and caregivers respectively.
Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) lead the efforts and presented the measure to the state Assembly, which approved the bill through via majority vote of 41-32. Reggie and his constituents, who advocate that current medical cannabis laws are in jeopardy due largely to the recent requests made by the federal budget committee to allocate funds to help reverse the Obama-era directive which limited the interference of the DEA and federal enforcement agencies from the development and enforcement of cannabis laws established at the state level.
In response to the passing of Proposition 64 in November 2016, Californian officials have been working hard to determine the framework of the proposed legislation related to the dual Medical-Recreational cannabis laws that is expected to go live on January 1st
, 2018. This new legislation will be replacing the infamous first-of-its-kind Proposition 215. To take a brief look back at how California became the first state to introduce a medical cannabis framework for its citizens, we first must look back at the courageous statement released by Jocelyn Elders, the Surgeon General of the United States appointed by the Clinton administration. As the first African American and second woman to hold the Surgeon General position, Dr. Elders developed a reputation for taking socially progressive positions on controversial issues like the exploration of the possibility of drug legalization. This very statement sparked the discussion in California which 3 years later made way for California Proposition 215: Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative aka Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
Fast-forwarding two decades, Californian voters passed a new cannabis measure in 2016 which would decriminalize cannabis for recreational-use. It is during this transitional period where legislations are being drafted for consideration, that the future outlook of cannabis in California is determined.
With much opposition from Republican lawmakers and local Law Enforcement Agencies, AB1578 passed ensuring “that our limited local and state resources are not spent on federal marijuana enforcement against individuals and entities that are in compliance with our laws.” said Reggie Jones-Sawyer.
Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) told reporters that the Jones-Sawyer bill resembled the sanctuary-state legislation that prohibited local law enforcement from aiding federal immigration agents to arrest and detain people in the country illegally. “This is insanity” said Allen. “This is a complete violation of federal law. The hubris of Californian Democrats believing they can flout federal law on immigration and drug policy is beyond words.” commenting that our local law enforcement agencies could be put in “harm’s way” if there were a lack of cooperation with the DEA.
Both Jones-Sawyer, author, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), co-author of the bill, made statements that they were open to revising the bill language to make certain that local law enforcement agencies were cooperative with the federal agents in cases where state and federal cannabis laws were subject to violation. “People who are compliant with California law and operate within the legal cannabis market should not have to fear that a state or local agency will participate in efforts to punish or incarcerate them for activity that the state and its voters have deemed legal,” said Bonta.
The bill which is up for Senate consideration, encompasses a framework allowing for-profit medical cannabis businesses, banning billboard advertisements on interstate and state highway routes, issuance of state licenses in accordance with local ordinances, and proposes that $3 million be allocated by the State to help fund the California Highway Patrol agency’s research and develop of a cannabis-related impairment test.