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David Downs, East Bay Express
California’s landmark regulations for its medical marijuana industry were not heard, passed, or killed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing today. Instead, Senate Bill 1262 was moved to the "suspense file" and could face a hearing in Appropriations tomorrow.
According to insiders at the Capitol, it's unclear whether the bill will pass amid all the horse-trading at the end of the legislative session this year.
State Senator Lou Correa’s police-backed bill to regulate the estimated $1.8 billion medical cannabis industry in California also received a pivotal analysis by Assembly Appropriations today.
The analysis estimates a $20 million price tag for setting up a Bureau of Medical Marijuana. The industry could generate $400 million in sales taxes annually. Support and opposition for the bill is murky, due to ongoing amendments, the analysis found.
California NORML, Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project and some other pro-marijuana groups are opposed, calling the regulations unworkable, unjust, or both. Also in opposition is a group representing rural counties.
Americans for Safe Access and the California Cannabis Industry Association still supports the bill, which is also backed by the California Police Chiefs Association and League of California Cities. Pro-marijuana groups have made major amendments to SB 1262, they say. Julia Carrera from the Small Farmer’s Association also said her group supports the bill. Any legislation involves both sides getting some heartburn, she said.
“I’m impressed [with SB 1262]", she said. “Any bill is going to have cleanup language added later.
San Francisco lawyer and industry organizer Matt Kumin said in an interview this week that SB 1262 makes too many concessions to law enforcement. "We have them crying, 'Uncle!' Why would we surrender so much now?"
Americans for Safe Access' California coordinator Don Duncan said he was not sure the bill would pass this year.
If it fails this week, the backers of the legislation would have to start over with a new bill and new sponsors in January.
About two dozen activists and lobbyists for and against the bill attended the morning Appropriations hearing. No public comment was heard. Correa introduced SB 1262 and it was quickly shuffled into the suspense file.