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Medical Marijuana Bill Stalls in Waning Hours of Legislative Session

September 13, 2013
Legislative efforts to establish a statewide regulatory scheme for medical marijuana took a number of forms in 2013. The last of these was a pair of last-minute gut-and-amend attempts to radically limit cities’ ability to regulate medical marijuana facilities — with the second and final attempt fizzling out late last night.
Just two days ago the first gut-and-amend vehicle was AB 604 (Ammiano). That bill didn’t have enough votes on the Senate Floor for referral the Senate Public Safety Committee. Senators Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Marc Leno (D-San Francisco) then attempted to gut-and-amend yet another bill with its contents. SB 611 (Hill) was a prison bill sitting in the Assembly Public Safety Committee when amendments were drafted that would have made it the new medical marijuana bill.
As word of the impending amendment to SB 611 got out yesterday, dozens of letters opposing the new bill flooded the Capitol. The League pushed these out via Twitter starting at 9 p.m. The League, the Police Chiefs, and other law enforcement groups watched for the amendment and the calling of an Assembly Public Safety hearing to vote on it. 
Lobbying efforts against the not-yet-amended bill went all day and night with the vigil continuing until early this morning. An Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing to vote on a freshly gutted-and-amended SB 611 would have had to happen on very short notice. The composition of that committee meant that the bill would have been swiftly approved, sent to a hastily arranged Appropriations Committee hearing, and from there on to the Assembly Floor for a vote. Ultimately however, this scenario never occurred — the medical marijuana/AB 604 language was never amended into SB 611, and no hearings on the bill were convened. 
Two things helped extinguish this effort: a blow-up over a CEQA bill that generated extensive debate, and the continued concerted advocacy by the League and local law enforcement against the medical marijuana bill late into the night.
Session adjourned shortly after midnight without further action on SB 611. For now the bill is dead but it’s highly likely that some form of the measure will emerge in January.

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