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Nearly 20 years after Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana, comprehensive regulations are finally state law

(Sacramento, CA) –Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) is happy to announce today that Governor Brown signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (the Act), which, for the first time in the history of California, establishes a comprehensive regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry to ensure patient access, as well as to protect the environment, public safety, and public health.

“Today ushers in a new era for California,” explained Assemblymember Bonta. “Patients will have assurances that their products are safe. Law enforcement will have a foundation for identifying drugged drivers and increased funding to protect the public. The environment will be protected from neglect, destruction, and water diversion. And the medical marijuana industry itself will be able to come out of the shadows and receive the same protections under the law as other state-licensed businesses, creating jobs and contributing to the economy.

“I am privileged to have played a key role in these historic new laws that will address, once and for all, the challenges posed by medical marijuana in California.”

With the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, California became the first state in the nation to allow for the medical use of marijuana, leading the charge ahead of 22 other states and the District of Columbia. However, prior to today, California lacked a regulatory framework for the industry. The three bills signed by Governor Brown today finally establish that framework.

Speaker Atkins, who credited Bonta and the Assembly for successfully negotiating the legislation with Governor Brown, and whose leadership was instrumental in crafting the Act, described the need to regulate the medical marijuana industry. “It has been nearly 20 years since California legalized the use of medical marijuana in California. And the industry has been unregulated during that time. Too much is at stake to let the medical marijuana industry continue on without clear direction. That’s why from the very first day of the Legislative session, the Assembly sent a clear message: this is the year we will pass a smart and comprehensive framework to regulate the industry. The Act Governor Brown signed today is the final step in fulfilling that commitment.”

Assemblymember Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), applauded the unprecedented nature of the agreement. “The new medical marijuana framework signed by Governor Brown today is historic. It’s historic as policy for its breakthroughs in regulation, public safety, local control, and patient access. It’s historic for its method—robust and extensive engagement with a team of lawmakers and staff who spent thousands of hours refining the language with the input of stakeholders, Assembly and Senate leadership, and the sage guidance of the Governor himself.”

Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles), stated, “Through an unprecedented bipartisan effort, my colleagues and I presented the Governor with a legal framework to finally address the medical marijuana issues that have been prevalent in California since 1996, when California became the first state in the nation to allow the use of medical marijuana. Thank you to the Governor for standing with us in this unprecedented collaborative effort to finally regulate the medical marijuana industry in a smart and comprehensive way that respects the interests of local government while still providing a consistent statewide structure.”

Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), the only Republican author of AB 266, emphasized how the legislation improves public safety. “For nearly 20 years, California has not had a statewide strategy for curbing drugged driving (DUID). Today that begins to change as the University of California will begin critical research on marijuana-impaired driving which will lead to better roadside tools for law enforcement. A recent report on Colorado showed nearly 1 out of 5 car crash deaths in 2014 were marijuana related. With legalization initiatives looming, it’s vital we prepare for how to keep our roads safe for all Californians. As a former 28-year CHP officer, I am thankful Governor Brown worked with us to address this public safety hazard head on.”

Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), author of AB 243, a companion piece to AB 266, stated, “The signing of these bills marks a turning point for the medical cannabis industry in California. The industry has grown for 20 years in the dark. These guidelines will change the game. Finally, business owners, patients, and law enforcement have the clarity and security to move forward in a positive direction. AB 243 was crafted with the North Coast in mind and I am proud that it will help our district and the state of California.”

Assemblymember Bonta concluded, “The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act was just the beginning. The Legislature must continue to lead as California implements this bill. I commit to working with state agencies, local governments, and businesses across the state to make this new system a success.”

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