Marijuana activists hate Sacramento lawmaker's latest pot-regulation bill

Activists say a new marijuana bill by a Sacramento-area lawmaker is just blowing smoke.

Rancho Cordova-based lawmaker Ken Cooley pitched Assembly Bill 266 last week.

The bill, backed by cities and police, would give the state the authority to issue oversee medical marijuana, including the issuing of conditional marijuana licenses for dispensaries, growers and people who transport cannabis. 

Local governments would be in charge of issuing final permits—or could still ban medical-cannabis dispensing, as is the case in Sacramento County. The bill also would require lab testing of medical-cannabis quality.

Most medical-marijuana activists oppose the Cooley bill, however.

Dale Gieringer, with the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, told SN&R last week that Cooley’s bill, which he is “vehemently” against, is dead-on-arrival with the cannabis movement. 

“It is not compatible with the path that California is going on toward legalization in 2016,” he said.

Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project in California, echoed Gieringer’s stance. “The California system has become the poster child for the harm and uncertainly that comes from a medical marijuana program without well-considered oversight by state authorities,” he wrote in an email. “Unfortunately AB 266 currently contains several unworkable provisions that would create significant problems.”

For instance, Gieringer pointed out that A.B. 266, if passed, would become law in July of 2017—even though activists hope to pass their own marijuana-legalization in November of next year. That doesn’t make sense, he argued.

Activists like Gieringer also dislike giving marijuana control to local governments, because in many cases they opt to defy Proposition 215, which legalized MMJ, and instead implement bans on growing and sellling.

A.B. 266 would also require that marijuana to be transported in “the equivalent of an armored vehicle with two employees,” Gieringer claimed.

“It’s treating marijuana like uranium.”

He and others hope for a different medical-pot bill this legislative session in advance of next year’s legalization push.

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