Will California ever overhaul its medical cannabis rules and regulations to ensure that legitimate businesses can survive?
Not this year, at least. A proposal to regulate dispensaries in California and allow cities to collect taxes on medical marijuana sales failed to even make it out of a Senate committee. The main sponsor of the bill – Assemblyman Tom Ammiano – cancelled a vote on the proposal due to lack of support.
Assembly Bill 2312 called for a new government agency to oversee the MMJ industry and would have paved the way for the state to reap tens of millions of dollars in additional tax revenues. It’s the type of legislation California desperately needs, as it would have clarified how dispensaries and related businesses should be operating. It also would have raised the barriers to entry to help weed out sketchy players, which is key to helping ease the federal crackdown on MMJ in California.
The bill faced sizable hurdles, and even Ammiano said that it will likely be a long process to reform California’s medical marijuana laws. Supporters are now hoping to make significant progress on the issue next year.
That’s all well and good, but the state needs to move sooner rather than later. If it takes another year or two for lawmakers to agree on reforms, the industry might not even exist in California anymore. Dozens of cities and communities in the state have already banned dispensaries, while others have enacted moratoriums on new ones to stifle the industry’s growth. Next month, the Los Angeles City Council will weigh in on a measure calling for a complete ban on dispensaries in the region – and there’s a good chance it or a modified version that would drastically cut the number of centers will pass.
Clearly, time is running out.