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California Assembly To Consider Bill To Regulate Medical Marijuana

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It's been nearly 20 years since voters made medical marijuana use legal in California with the passage of Proposition 215, and now the state is considering creating an oversight agency to regulate it.

The state Assembly is expected this week to consider a bill to create the Governor's Office of Medical Marijuana Regulation. It would work with other state departments to license and regulate dispensaries and oversee everything from cultivation to manufacturing and testing of medical marijuana.

Assembly Bill 266 is authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland.

"Since the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, we've had very little additional regulation to protect the health of patients, their safety, to protect the environment, to protect public safety, and it’s about time that we do that," Bonta said.

The legislation, a merger of two bills introduced in the Assembly this year to regulate medical marijuana, would leave land use and zoning issues to local municipalities and allow them to ban dispensaries if they wish.

Alex Kreit, a law professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former member of the city of San Diego's Medical Marijuana Task Force Committee, said California has needed consistent regulations statewide for a long time.

“California was a leader in medical marijuana, and now we’ve really fallen behind because we don’t have statewide regulations,” Kreit told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday. “Cities really just aren’t equipped to do the kind of health and regulatory oversight for medicine.”

Eugene Davidovich, who leads the medical marijuana advocacy group Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access, said he supports of statewide regulations but has yet to see the final bill.

“We need statewide regulations that would provide clarity for the community,” Davidovich said. “Clarity is what patients have been asking for since 1996. We haven’t seen the final bill yet and the devil is always in the details.”

AB266 could come up for a vote on the Assembly on Wednesday.


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