- Posted by Ryan Reaves
- On June 6, 2017
- AB1578, AUMA, California, cannabis, commercial cannabis, MCRSA, medical cannabis, Medical Marijuana laws, Sanctuary State
California Bill to Protect Cannabis Industry Passes State Assembly
On June 1, 2017 Assembly Bill 1578 successfully passed in the State Assembly with forty-one votes in favor and thirty-three votes against. The legislation was introduced by Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer, and co-authored by Assembly Members Bonta, Chiu, Wood, Eggman, Garcia and Senators Skinner and Wiener. The legislation will now move onto the Senate where it will be heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee. If AB-1578 successfully passes in the Senate it will establish California as a sanctuary state for commercial and medical cannabis activities when signed into law by the Governor.
AB-1578 will prohibit state and local agencies from conducting the following actions without a court order signed by a judge:
• Use resources to assist federal agencies to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial and medical cannabis activities authorized under state and local law.
• Respond to requests made by a federal agency or entity for information about an individual who is authorized or allowed under California law to possess, cultivate, transport, manufacture, sell, or possess for sale cannabis products and flower.
• Provide information to federal agencies concerning any individual who has applied for or received a license to engage in medical or commercial activities pursuant to MCRSA or AUMA.
• Transfer an individual to federal law enforcement or detain an individual at the request of federal law enforcement or federal authorities for cannabis related activities that are legal under California law.
Commercial cannabis businesses and California residents alike welcome the additional protections given the current political climate at the federal level. Rolling back the more lenient policy enforcement standards established by Eric Holder under President Obama, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors in May 2017 to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense… serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences”. Until cannabis is no longer a Schedule-1 controlled substance under federal law, mandatory minimum sentences may apply to cannabis related convictions.
This is not the first time the State of California has had to produce legislation to prevent or limit federal and local agencies from working together when targeting medical and commercial cannabis activities. Civil asset forfeiture has been a serious concern for the cannabis industry and for many years allowed local law enforcement agencies to share profits with federal agencies when coordinating raids on cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries. Senate Bill 443, which was passed in September 2016 and came into effect January 2017, established strict standards to “protect the due process and property rights of California cannabis business owners, investors, and landlords”. SB443 prevents state and local law enforcement from transferring any property seized under state law to a federal agency and requires state and local agencies to obtain a criminal conviction for the illegal manufacture or cultivation of cannabis to receive a share of federally seized property and cash.
Establishing California as a sanctuary state for cannabis use and activities creates not only a barrier of protection for individual users but, also helps encourage investment and growth in the emerging commercial cannabis industry.
AB-1578 still needs to pass in the California Senate before it can be signed into law. Please contact your State Senator and request that they vote in favor of AB-1578 to protect the rights of cannabis users and commercial cannabis business.
Ryan Reaves is a Public Policy Analyst for CannaBusiness Law and Master of Public Policy candidate at the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College in Oakland, California.