After the Justice Department issued a memo authorizing states to tax and regulate marijuana, Sacramento responded. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced AB 1894, a bill that may be viewed as an initial attempt to “toughen” marijuana regulations. As this California NORML article states, AB 1894 is identical to the previous AB 604, the “Medical Cannabis Regulation And Control Act,” with one caveat, AB 1894, as it is now written, authorizes counties and cities to levy special transactions and use tax on medical marijuana. This bill aims at developing a state regulatory scheme by creating the Division of Medical Cannabis Regulation and Enforcement with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Department). Essentially, the bill grants the Department the exclusive power to register persons for the cultivation, manufacture, testing, transportation, storage, distribution, and sale of medical cannabis within the state, subject to specified exemptions for a city or county. Most importantly, the bill maintains the authority of cities to ban dispensaries from their jurisdictions.
AB 1894 will be heard by the Public Safety Committee later this month and then shift to the Senate. Only time will tell if the bill passes and whether new regulations which include the new mandatory registration program, clearer rules for medical recommendations, and expanded resources for law enforcement will effectively meet the objectives of the bill. While there are, and will always be, proponents and opponents of controversial bills such as this, one thing is for sure: Sacramento has heard the public’s outcry for clearer marijuana regulations, and AB 1894 is the latest response.