- Posted by Erica Treeby
- On March 2, 2017
- breaking, California, cannabis, Cannabis License, Cannabis Permit, Federal prosecution, legislation, licensing, MCRSA, medical cannabis, Proposition 64, regulations, Schedule I
During a time when the federal government’s position on Cannabis is awash in uncertainty, California’s legislators introduced a bill on Friday, February 17th, that aims to protect the state’s Cannabis industry from from federal prosecution. Assembly Bill 1578, which was introduced by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, would prevent state and local agencies from assisting federal authorities seeking to crack down on Cannabis businesses that are operating in compliance with state law without first obtaining a court order signed by a judge.
Given the recent confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General, those states with medical Cannabis or recreational Cannabis laws on the books have been left wondering what approach the country’s chief law enforcement official will take in regards to the Cannabis industry. Although over half of our nation’s states currently have laws legalizing Cannabis in either medical or recreational form, Cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government considers Cannabis to have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse and physical/psychological dependence.
California’s view of Cannabis stands in stark contrast to that of the Feds. In 1996, California became the first state to approve medical Cannabis use with the passage of Proposition 215. Twenty years later, California’s voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the adult use of recreational Cannabis. Moreover, the enactment of the Medical Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act (“MCRSA”) in October 2015, created a comprehensive framework whereby state and local agencies may provide for the licensure and regulation of medical Cannabis activities. It’s no surprise that the state’s legislators are now taking action to protect those involved in California’s burgeoning Cannabis industry from federal prosecution.
AB 1578 was drafted in order to make it more difficult for the Feds to come after California’s Cannabis businesses and consumers. If approved, AB 1578, would prohibit a state or local agency from “taking certain actions without a court order signed by a judge, including using agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by” California law. The bill further prohibits state or local agencies from transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of Cannabis enforcement without first obtaining a court order.
Although the bill would not foreclose the Justice Department from pursuing prosecution of California’s Cannabis businesses for violations of federal law, it would prevent local law enforcement agencies from assisting the Feds in the absence of a court order. Given the tumultuous political climate as of late, AB 1578 may provide some much needed reassurance that California will work to uphold the rights of its citizens from federal attack.
We invite you to contact CannaBusinessLaw for expert assistance with Cannabis licensing, permitting, and compliance relating to commercial Cannabis in California.