The California Assembly failed to adopt SJR 14 by only four votes on Monday (see votes
). We are disappointed by this outcome, but I want to thank the hundreds of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) members and supporters who called their representatives in the Assembly over the last ten days to support the resolution. I also want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the staff in the offices of California Senator Mark Leno
(D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano
(D-San Francisco), who worked tirelessly until the very last minute to get the votes we needed.
was resolution sponsored by ASA and authored by Senator Leno calling for an end to federal interference in state medical cannabis laws and for the development of a comprehensive national policy to provide safe access. We hope to send a new resolution to the President, lawmakers, and the administrative agencies in the next legislative session, so that we can help shape the evolving federal policy on medical cannabis.
The window of opportunity for SJR 14 this year was narrow. Resolutions usually go to the back of the line when lawmakers in Sacramento are running out of time. It was even tougher this year. A historic financial shortfall and impasse on the budget have dominated the final days of the legislative session. Even last minute support from the influential National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP) was not enough to galvanize Assemblymembers around the resolution.
SJR 14 should have been a winner in a Democratic legislature – it costs nothing, does not change state law, and calls for action only in the federal arena. Unfortunately, ambivalence about medical cannabis is at a high water mark in Sacramento. Even legislators with a track record of support are worried about increasingly unpopular collectives, lenient doctors, or patients that “don’t look sick.” That is why some of the twelve silent Assemblymembers withheld their support for SJR 14.
We are seeing a more sophisticated legislative effort from our opponents in Sacramento. Assemblymember Joan Buchanan
(D-Alamo) introduced a law enforcement-sponsored bill to limit locations for collectives. AB 2650 was initially cut and pasted straight from the unreasonable ordinances adopted this year in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Senator Ron Calderon’s
(D-Montebello) fist bill sought to tax all cannabis at the same rate as tobacco (SBX6 16), and his latest effort establishes a tight licensing requirement – but without specifying fees or providing any legal protections for growers (SB 1131
). These initiatives and others like them will be back in the next session.
We still have to fight to protect the ground we have gained since 2003, and work even harder to make progress on licensing, taxation, and collective regulation next session. There is a lot to do. We should already be building our base, shoring up relationships in the legislature, getting strong legislative proposals together, and building coalitions for next session. I want to call on ASA members and medical cannabis advocates in the state to rededicate their time, attention, and financial resources the campaign for safe access in California. If we rediscover the energy and commitment that brought us this far, we can overcome these challenges and make real progress towards realizing the voters’ mandate for medical cannabis in California and finally changing federal law.