by David Downs
A new bill to regulate California's $1.3 billion medical marijuana industry cleared its first hurdle yesterday: the Assembly's public safety committee.
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano's AB 473 would license everyone in the commercial medical marijuana supply chain — from growers to stores — through the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Private patients, caregivers and collectives would be exempt.
Supporters of AB 473 include the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and the California's criminal defense attorneys. Americans for Safe Access and Cal NORML also expressed support, though they'd like to make sure cities can't totally ban medical marijuana stores.
Opposition was reportedly led by the usual suspects in law enforcement: the California Narcotic Officer's Association and California Police Chiefs Association - two groups that stand to lose major federal funding if they have to give up medical weed busts. The cops were joined in opposition by some patient advocates who feel AB 473 isn't liberal enough.
AB 473 now goes to hearings in the Assembly Appropriations Committee before being voted on by the full Assembly.
Read AB 473 for yourself here.