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California lawmaker revives bill to regulate medical marijuana

March 20, 2013|By Michael J. Mishak

SACRAMENTO -- A state lawmaker has revived legislation to regulate medical marijuana in California, saying the measure is necessary to clarify hazy legal areas that continue to plague the state's pot program 16 years after voters approved it.

The proposal, AB 473 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), would create a division within the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to monitor supply and sales of medical marijuana.

While the Legislature passed a bill that offered limited guidance on regulation in 2003, it has yet to adopt requirements for state licensing and labeling of cannabis, among other issues, resulting in a series of contradictory court decisions.

The California Supreme Court is expected to rule by May on whether local governments have the authority to ban cannabis dispensaries.

“Where marijuana rules are concerned, California has been in chaos for way too long,” Ammiano said in a statement. “Cities have been looking for state guidance, dispensaries feel at the mercy of changing rules and patients who need medical cannabis are uncertain about how their legitimate medical needs will be filled."

He added: "This is a concrete plan that will keep medical marijuana safe. We will get it into the right hands and keep it out of the wrong hands.”

The bill follows failed efforts last year to regulate medical pot. Facing opposition from law enforcement groups, Ammiano tabled a measure that would have created a state board to enact and enforce statewide regulations on growing, transporting and selling medical marijuana.

Opponents, including the Los Angeles County district attorney's office and the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said the bill would have spurred an expansion of an industry that they characterized as out of control.

The new legislation is modeled on rules in Colorado, which has successfully regulated medical marijuana for three years, Ammiano said.

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michael.mishak@latimes.com

twitter.com/mjmishak

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