Medical Cannabis Patient Advocates Applaud Passage of Historic Legislation

Sacramento, CA- On September 11th, 2015 the California State Legislature passed a series of bills that would establish comprehensive regulation and licensing of medical cannabis.  Assembly Bills 243 and 266 as well as Senate Bill 643 were all approved and will delegate regulation of commercial medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution to various state agencies as well as create a state-level licensing system for the first time in the history of the state’s medical cannabis program. Governor Jerry Brown is widely expected to sign all three pieces of legislation.

“We’re glad the legislature has finally been able to move forward on regulations,” said Don Duncan, Americans for Safe Access (ASA)’s California Director. “History has shown that regulation can improve community outcomes while still preserving patient access. Passing medical cannabis regulation before the state moves forward with a potential adult-use recreational system next year is extremely important for the preservation of the medical cannabis program.”

ASA successfully lobbied to exempt medical cannabis patients’ personal cultivation rights from regulatory rules and to move regulatory oversight from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to the newly created Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, within the Department of Consumer Affairs.  ASA also successfully opposed a state-wide production tax on commercial cannabis cultivation.  

“Licensing and regulation will also ensure higher quality standards and increased product safety, legally protect industry workers, and help reduce public ambivalence about the medical cannabis program,” said Kristin Nevedal, Director of the Patient Focused Certification program. “While we were able to keep out several bad legislative proposals, there are still several aspects of the bill that are of concern. We’re encouraging legislators to be open to additional changes in the event some of the regulations prove inflexible or overly burdensome.”

ASA opposes a last minute alteration to the bill that creates a 100-square-foot maximum amount of medical cannabis patient personal cultivation that was added so late that few were aware of it at the time of the vote.  ASA has also expressed concerns about vertical integration limits creating undue obstacles to legitimate members of the medical cannabis industry. 

Early this year California AB 258, the ASA-sponsored Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act was signed into law by Governor Brown. The law will prevent anyone from being denied an organ transplant based only on legal medical cannabis use. The adoption of the bill makes California the seventh state to protect patients in jeopardy of being denied a potentially life-saving transplant.  ASA is currently monitoring and communicating with California’s hospital systems to ensure compliance with the new law.