Skip to main content

Not a Good Year for Marijuana So Far in Sacramento

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #687)
Politics & Advocacy

Last Friday marked a critical deadline in the California legislature, and with the passing of that day, a number of marijuana reform measures saw their prospects snuffed out or deferred until next year, while some not so friendly measures are still alive. Friday was the last day to get bills out of the chamber where they were introduced; if they hadn't moved to the other chamber by then, they died.

The California Senate chamber. There's not a lot of good news coming out of Sacramento this year. (Image via
On the medical marijuana front, Senate Bill 129, introduced by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would have protected the employment rights of medical marijuana users, but stalled after passing out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. A similar bill passed the legislature in 2008, only to be vetoed by then Gov. Schwarzenegger (R), but support has since slipped among moderate Democrats and labor, according to California NORML.

Sen. Leno asked that the bill be put on the inactive bill while he attempts to gin up more support. That means the measure will be held over until January, when it can be reconsidered.

A bill that would have established a statewide commission to make recommendations on how to overcome the state's medical marijuana distribution mess, Senate Bill 626, also failed to move. That bill was bottled up in the Senate Appropriations Committee, and sponsor Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Los Angeles) is pondering how to revive it next year.

A couple of bills that did move were not favorable for medical marijuana dispensaries. Assembly Bill 1300, sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Los Angeles), started out clearly stating that dispensing medical marijuana was legal under state law. As such, it garnered the support of state and national reform groups. But it was gutted in committee, and that language was removed, leaving only language allowing localities the option of regulating collectives. That bill now heads to the Senate.

To add insult to injury, an even worse bill passed the Senate and is headed for the Assembly. Senate Bill 847, introduced by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Anaheim), would impose statewide zoning restrictions on dispensaries. Under the bill, dispensaries would have to be at least 600 feet from a residential area unless the locality chooses to have a more permissive zoning law.

On the non-medical front, what would have been groundbreaking legislation giving judges and prosecutors the option of trying cultivation offenses as misdemeanors instead of felonies is down, but not quite out. Assembly Bill 1017, introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), was defeated last week on a vote of 24-36, but won a motion to reconsider, meaning the Assembly can revisit the bill in January.

"The state legislature has once again demonstrated its incompetence when it comes to dealing with prison crowding," commented California NORML Director Dale Gieringer. "With California under court order to reduce its prison population, it is irresponsible to maintain present penalties for nonviolent drug offenses. It makes no sense to keep marijuana growing a felony, when assault, battery, and petty theft are all misdemeanors. Legislators have once again caved in to to the state's law enforcement establishment, which has a  vested professional interest in maximizing drug crime."

And last but not least, a hemp bill, Senate Bill 676, also authored by Sen. Leno, passed the Senate and awaits action in the Assembly. That bill authorizes hemp to be grown only in a handful of Central Valley counties and Imperial County on the Mexican border, where distance and prevailing winds should keep its pollen away from Northern California's lucrative marijuana crops.

Some small glimmers of light, but all in all, a pretty disappointing year so far for marijuana reform in Sacramento.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


O'Fishel Insider (not verified)

Who keeps blocking progress? Who doesnt understand prohibition increases illegal activity? Who doesnt get that regulation, accountability, and taxation are the future of medical marijuana? Who still thinks marijuana should be recreational? Marijuana is medical. Marijuana should be used responsibly. Marijuana is the largest cash crop. Feed your bio nuclear reactors with hemp not trees. Sacramento, learn from Los Angeles. When you are unclear and when you do not act you invite a condition worse than what you started with. Stop depending on government money. Look to the people who live in your state. Build on the people that work in your state. Believe in the new farming growing in your state. We dont want to encroach on other viable flowers and vegetable farms in California and so in the future you will see cities that are mindful of greener technologies such as LED indoor growing. Less fires and less energy use.

Tue, 06/07/2011 - 3:44pm Permalink
jack smith (not verified)

In reply to by O'Fishel Insider (not verified)

good god man. 97% of pot users, use it for fun, recreation. 50% of the phony medical mj movement, has no medical need at all. talk about asleep at the wheel. the only thing that keeps the despensaries open, is greed, not concern for patients. full legalizatioin for ALL citizens, regardless what they r using pot for. it is called equal protection under the law. dont be a hypocrit about medical mj, we all understand the guise. suddenly everyone has a hang nail, and suddenly have a medical card, come on man, sell that story to some foolish kid. dont insult the adult population of the state with that "we are here to provide medical mj, for the good of the people". despensaries are open for business for ONE reason. the Money! all u do gooders cling to your ruse, but dont honestly begin to believe it. it is almost laughable anyone expects us to believe in compassion is the driving force for medical mj. if there was no income whatsoever from your medical mj stores, believe me, there would not be a single open dispensary in the state. dont kid yourself on that, and dont try to sell it to the recreational crowd. what a fallicy.

Sat, 05/19/2012 - 9:11pm Permalink
Ernst Berg (not verified)


It's possible that we have organized drug activities in each county in California.

It is possible the "not in my neighborhood" approach that is popular is a last stand that will end with "Over my dead body" activism for 2012.


  It would seem that California and indeed the conservative communities nation and world wide wish for the good old days when hating Hippies and communism was enough to unify us.

 But, here we are, back to the desire for cheep energy and we are in communes sharing what housing we can afford. All this in a trickle down wake.

 I see our old standard of social conformity as the sort of unifying force at work against us.

 People need an enemy to fight against and in the on-line forums, like the politics forum on Roll It Up dot com for example,  It's the sort of unifying force where having an enemy be it hippies,  terrorists or simply being different drives the political wheels and group cohesion.  It exists on both sides of our legalization efforts.

After all who wants to be unpopular or vote yes for Cannabis Horticulture when we all are focused on Cannabis profits be it Sacramento or Cyberspace.

 So what do we do? 

 The main problem we face, that I see, is we are fighting a blind fight about the legality of cannabis profits when we should all "stop, drop and roll" to put out that fire by legalizing cannabis horticulture for all people.

 Once you and I can simply grow what we wish in our gardens and that everyone can is when we will see political change with regards to cannabis commerce.

The only thing I see on the horizon for California is the 25 plants in

Cultivation is permission to grow and Horticulture is the right to breed.  There is a big difference.

 The Prop 19 people are building "The Wall" one designer brick at a time and not really talking about what the donations for your designer brick will be used for.

 I see us wallowing in failure for 2012 again while some continue to get rich. So to hell with the legalizing cannabis profits when cannabis horticulture is the last thing anyone with a Bill or Initiative will allow. 

 We are failing to start with personal freedom; a bottom up approach.  We are trying to fix our economy and administrate Cannabis Reform from the Top Down which works fine for the No voter, Cannabis hater and cannabis profiteers.

Why are we still playing that game?

 Please take a moment to consider that with Prop 215 we legalized and that didn't allow commerce of any legal scale.

 It stands to reason that with two failed Prop 19's that California is not in favor of Bohemian economics of the 1960's and 1970's nor the scars of pot-shops on main street in 2012.

What we can get passed is an extension of the Medical horticulture to all adults if we omit commerce language.

Sure in 10 maybe 15 years the scale may time in favor of the consumer-voter driven cannabis reforms but until then we still face a large swath of old school voters.  Many who still want to have the "not in my neighborhood" and "over my dead body" kind of cannabis reform.

 Maybe just maybe we can expand the rights to medical horticulture to all California adults but it's foolish to think with the passage of and non-passage of these recent efforts that Cannabis Commerce is popular on the State level for all one way or the other and that Cannabis horticulture rights and rights to a quality of life that include cannabis liberty are not popular.


  Why not do a bottom up approach and divide the efforts into stages over the next 6 years.  People first then commerce and industry.


Trickle down economics is a failure and so is trickle down legalization.

 Ernst Berg Turlock California USA

Fri, 06/10/2011 - 4:26pm Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.