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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bonta nears major legislative victory with dispensary regulatory bill

Assemblymember Rob Bonta
ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta is nearing passage of a landmark bill that will bring long-needed regulations to the state’s billion-dollar medical cannabis industry.

Late Thursday evening, the Los Angeles Times reported a deal knitting together Bonta’s Assembly Bill 266 and another, AB 243, by Healdsburg Assemblymember Jim Wood, had been hatched, likely with help from Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

Last week, both pieces of legislation were gutted and replaced with language only describing the vague intention for the Legislature to regulate medical cannabis in the future. That time will likely come on Friday, the last day of the legislative session.

Bonta told the Los Angeles Times, the compromise bill will create a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to oversee licensing of dispensaries statewide, in addition, to using the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Department of Public Health

An article in SF Weekly on Thursday also suggested the long negotiating sessions seen over the past week on the issue involved a see-saw approach to which lawmaker’s bill—Bonta or Wood—would encompass more of the final product.

A celebratory mood followed news of the agreement, which if signed by the governor, would amount to Bonta’s most important piece of signed legislation since his election to the Assembly in 2013. “On the first day of session, the Assembly sent a clear message that this would be the year to regulate medical marijuana,” said Bonta. “Today we fulfilled that promise. I am honored to be a part of this bipartisan legislative collaboration making California once again a leader for our patients."

The legislation will also be historic, said Bonta, for being the first time the state has enacted a framework for regulating the growing medical cannabis industry in the years since medical cannabis dispensaries were approved by state voters in 1996. In addition to Bonta, AB 266, is co-authored by Assemblymembers Ken Cooley, (D-Rancho Cordova), Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale).

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