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ACT NOW: Last Minute Bill is Direct Attack on Municipal Zoning Authority over Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, Opens Door to Non-Medical Marijuana For-Profit Sales

Cities Urged to Contact Representatives to Oppose Immediately

September 10, 2013
The League is taking swift action to oppose a recent gut-and-amend bill that severely limits cities’ current ability to ban or regulate medical cannabis dispensaries and authorizes an entirely new horizon of marijuana use and commercial for-profit sales.
 
AB 604 (Ammiano) combines two League-opposed bills, SB 439 (Steinberg) and AB 473 (Ammiano) that died earlier this year and adds additional problematic provisions.
 
AB 604 is a radical expansion of existing law. The Compassionate Use Act passed by California voters in 1996 decriminalizes the use of medical marijuana by qualified patients as well as the distribution and related activities by primary caregivers. Currently cities are able to ban or regulate medical marijuana including requiring licenses and imposing fees or taxes on storefront dispensaries, mobile dispensaries cultivation facilities and related wholesale activities. This bill however exempts everything but storefront dispensaries, putting all other activities and businesses under jurisdiction of the Department Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC).
 
Local law enforcement would be prevented from enforcing regulations or investigating violations because ABC becomes responsible for policing commercial registrants. Even more problematic is that ABC would lack the authority to launch an investigation based solely on reports of controlled substance abuse submitted to or by local law enforcement.
 
Under AB 604 cities would also lose the authority to ban or even regulate other problematic marijuana operations such as manufacturing, storage, transportation or sale. This is a direct attack on municipal zoning and business licensing ordinances that specifically regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.
 
AB 604 creates the potential for conflicts between state and local governments over local dispensary limits. Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) should clarify the provision that establishes ABC’s ability to set “the maximum number of dispensaries that may operate in a city or county.” It is unclear whether this refers solely to the mandatory commercial registration/application process or whether it refers to and impinges on local zoning authority to determine the appropriate number and location of dispensaries in individual communities. The bill also directly challenges the local agency’s authority to establish regulations for maximum hours of dispensary operation and minimum signage and advertising standards.
 
The poorly written language of AB 604 provides a slippery slope to distribution of marijuana for recreational use under the guise of the implementation of the Compassionate Use Act. The bill is inconsistent in its use of the terms cannabis and medical cannabis in defining a dispensary. This raises the question of whether the bill’s objective is to facilitate commercial sale of marijuana for purely recreational purposes. Instead of rushing a bill related to public safety, health and local zoning authority in the last days of the legislative session, in the least AB 604 should become a two-year bill so that there is adequate time for the bill’s language to be thoroughly analyzed.
 
The bill is currently pending on the Senate Floor, but is scheduled for hearings by the Senate Public Safety Committee and Senate Business, Profession and Economic Development Committee prior to a floor vote. It is imperative that city officials, police chiefs and sheriffs call their senator immediately in opposition — especially if they are on the committee rosters below. Determine your representative here by entering your voting address.
 
A sample opposition letter and other bill information is available online for talking points.
 
Senate Public Safety Committee Roster

Senator Capitol Phone Local Phone
Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) (916) 651-4009 (510) 286-1333
Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) (916) 651-4036 (619) 596-3136
Marty Block (D-San Diego) (916) 651-4039 (619) 645-3133
Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) (916) 651-4022 (213) 483-9300
Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) (916) 651-4021 (661) 729-6232
Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge) (916) 651-4025 (909) 599-7351
Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) (916) 651-4006 (916) 651-1529

Senate Business, Profession & Economic Development Committee Roster
 
Senator Capitol Phone Local Phone
Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) (916) 651-4028 (310) 318-6994
Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands) (916) 651-4023 (760) 568-0408
Marty Block (D-San Diego) (916) 651-4039 (619) 645-3133
Ellen Corbett (D-Hayward) (916) 651-4010 (510) 577-2310
Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) (916) 651-4005 (209) 948-7930
Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) (916) 651-4024 (626) 430-2499
Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) (916) 651-4013 (650) 212-3313
Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) (916) 651-4020 (818) 901-5588
Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) (916) 651-4038 (949) 489-9838
Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) (916) 651-4008 (650) 340-8840
                           


 
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