Assemblymember Rob Bonta

Major legislation moves to Appropriations in August

ASSEMBLY | 18TH DISTRICT | At the very least, East Bay Assemblymember Rob Bonta doesn’t want you consuming medical cannabis loaded with mold and harmful pesticides.

Bonta’s Assembly Bill 266 to straighten out the state’s long unregulated medical cannabis industry passed a pair of hurdles this week.

On Wednesday, the State Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved the bill, 4-0. Later in the day, the Senate Health Committee moved the bill forward, 8-1. It now heads to the Appropriations Committee in August. The bill easily passed in the State Assembly last month, 62-8.

California’s estimated $1 billion medical cannabis industry has grown largely without relegation since the passage of Proposition 215 allowing its creation in 1996. In addition, local approval of medical cannabis dispensaries are notoriously crazy quilt, with some communities using moratoriums on zoning to limits its proliferation. An aspect of the bill not only creates a statewide framework for licensing and revoking permits for dispensaries, but gives local jurisdictions the same power.

Assemblymembers Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) are also co-authors.

Lackey, a Republican, who is also a former veteran of the California Highway Patrol, told members of the health committee, the bill would allow the state to study the effects of medical cannabis on drivers, which he labeled, “drugged driving.”

The safety of the product is also an issue. In many cases the lack of regulation has made uneven the potency and safety of medical cannabis products. Molds, pesticides and other contaminates are often found in medical cannabis around the state, Bonta told the health committee. He added,“It’s about providing safe access to medical cannabis.”