Med­i­cal mar­i­juana reg­u­la­tions ad­vance

State Leg­is­la­ture OKs two bills to es­tab­lish over­sight agen­cies, as well as a mea­sure on un­paid leave.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Me­lanie Ma­son and Pa­trick McGreevy

SACRA­MENTO — Com­pet­ing pro­pos­als to reg­u­late the state’s med­i­cal mar­i­juana in­dus­try ad­vanced in the Leg­is­la­ture on Thurs­day, cap­ping a week of bustling leg­isla­tive ac­tiv­ity be­fore state bud­get talks take pri­or­ity for awhile in the Capitol.

Law­mak­ers also voted on pro­pos­als to give work­ers more benefits. The state Se­nate backed an ex­pan­sion of un­paid fam­ily leave, while the As­sem­bly re­jected a pro­posal to re­quire busi­nesses to pay em­ploy­ees dou­ble for work­ing on Thanks­giv­ing.

Each house weighed in on med­i­cal mar­i­juana, which has been legal in Cal­i­for­nia since 1996 but has not been sub­ject to statewide reg­u­la­tion.

The Se­nate mea­sure would cre­ate a new Of­fice of Med­i­cal Mar­i­juana Reg­u­la­tion to reg­u­late how cannabis is grown and sold and to set fees and li­cense busi­nesses. Cities and coun­ties would en­force the reg­u­la­tions and could choose to cre­ate their own mar­i­juana sales taxes.

Vot­ers le­gal­ized med­i­cal mar­i­juana “nearly 20 years ago, and the promised rules and reg­u­la­tions from the Leg­is­la­ture were never im- ple­mented,” said the mea­sure’s au­thor, Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healds­burg). “And our com­mu­ni­ties and en­vi­ron­ment are now pay­ing the price.”

The vote on his bill, SB 643, was 25 to 12.

The As­sem­bly ap­proved a pro­posal for es­tab­lish­ing an agency to over­see new li­cens­ing reg­u­la­tions, which would be en­forced by sev­eral state de­part­ments. Lo­cal gov­ern­ments would still is­sue li­censes to grow and sell med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

The bill, AB 266, is a com­bi­na­tion of two ri­val pro­pos­als, one backed by the cannabis in­dus­try, the other by cities and law en­force­ment. The au­thors are Demo­cratic As­sem­bly­men Rob Bonta of Oak­land, Ken Coo­ley of Ran­cho Cordova and Reg­gie

Jones-Sawyer of Los An­ge­les.

With some Repub­li­can sup­port, the mea­sure passed 50 to 5.

Also on Thurs­day, the Se­nate ap­proved leg­is­la­tion that would al­low em­ploy­ees of mid­size com­pa­nies to take un­paid leave to care for fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing grand­par­ents and grand­chil­dren.

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jack­son (D-Santa Bar­bara) said her bill would ex­tend pro­tec­tion to em­ploy­ees of com­pa­nies with 25 to 49 work­ers af­ter a pre­vi­ous law took ef­fect for firms with 50 or more.

“It as­sures you that you will have your job back when you re­turn,” Jack­son told her col­leagues.

Her bill, SB 406, passed with a bare ma­jor­ity, 21 to 16. Repub­li­cans ob­jected that it would sub­ject busi­nesses to law­suits and dif­fi­culty in staffing. The Cal­i­for­nia Cham­ber of Com­merce op­poses the bill as a “job killer.”

Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Mur­ri­eta) de­scribed the pro­posal as “overly bur­den­some.” He op­er­ates phar­ma­cies and said it would be a hard­ship to find a qual­i­fied re­place- ment if a worker left for 12 weeks.

The dou­ble-pay pro­posal, also on the Cham­ber’s “job killer” list, fared worse.

Assem­bly­woman Lorena Gon­za­lez (D-San Diego), the bill’s au­thor, at­tempted to sweeten its ap­peal by de­liv­er­ing pump­kin pies to more than 50 leg­is­la­tors’ of­fices Thurs­day morn­ing.

Gon­za­lez noted that the mea­sure had been scaled back to ap­ply only to Thanks­giv­ing and to ex­empt small busi­ness and emer­gency ser­vices work­ers.

But the Cham­ber’s Jen­nifer Bar­rera said the bill, AB 67, “still needed a lot more work.” It failed in the As­sem­bly on a 29-to-28 vote.

Some high-pro­file mea­sures were shelved un­til next year. They in­cluded one bill to re­quire that re­tail­ers give em­ploy­ees two weeks’ no­tice of their work sched­ules and a pro­posal to reg­u­late short­term va­ca­tion rental plat­forms such as Airbnb.

Robert Gau­thier Los An­ge­les Times

THE SE­NATE’S bill would cre­ate a state of­fice to reg­u­late how mar­i­juana, above, is grown and sold.

Francine Orr

THE AS­SEM­BLY’S bill would cre­ate an agency to over­see med­i­cal mar­i­juana li­cens­ing reg­u­la­tions.

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