Today the California Senate Appropriations Committee advanced historic medical cannabis regulations with a last-minute twist: nothing was in the bill.
Assembly Bill 266 was gutted and amended to read: “It is the intention of the state legislature to regulate medical marijuana.”
But for the first time, the Governor’s Office weighed in with language of its own that may become the text of a last-minute bill that passes the Senate by September 7, and makes it to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.
Senate Appropriations voted 5-1 this afternoon to gut, amend, and advance AB 266, according to sources in the capital.
We’ve looked at some of the governor’s draft language, and it mirrors much of existing language in Sacramento calling for a fully functional, albeit highly regulated medical cannabis industry.
Personal and caregiver medical marijuana rights go untouched, but everything else is considered commercial and requires one of about twelve different types of licenses.
Californians would get tested products and organic certifications. Cities could ban pot activity. Licensees would need both local and then state approval for a license.
Farms are capped at one acre, or 20,000 square-feet. Deliveries would be allowed, but only if tied to a physical dispensary. Farmers could process or extract, but can’t retail pot. Retailers could extract or process their own products, but couldn’t own the farm. Transporters would be separately licensed and independent.
The governor’s draft language deletes certain layers of bureaucracy and trims expenses. A General Fund loan would pay for the $20 million program’s startup costs, and would be paid back through licensing and taxes.
Capital watchers report a flurry of meetings to reconcile AB 266 with other medical cannabis regulation bills this legislative session.
Lawmakers are under renewed pressure to craft basic, clear guidelines for the state medical cannabis system, with just 438 days before Californians are likely to return to the polls to vote on adult-use legalization.