Pot's on a lot of minds in Sacramento these days. Our own state senator, Mike McGuire, announced on 4/20 that his proposed medical marijuana bill received the unanimous approval of the Senate Business and Professions Committee.
The bill would create a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation under the state's consumer affairs department, which would "license and regulate dispensaries, cultivation sites, transportation systems and manufacturers of all marijuana products," according to a Press Democrat article.
"The state would have jurisdiction over how doctors advertise medical marijuana recommendation services and quality assurance testing for edibles and other products," the article continues. "Fees and penalties collected through the license program would go into a Medical Marijuana Regulation Fund that would support the program and its enforcement."
The bill has some ambitious goals — banning residential grows and requiring certified organic standards by 2022 — but it has support from a couple of notable marijuana advocates. Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the Emerald Growers Association, and Dale Gieringer, director of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, both told the Press Democrat they support the medical regulations, though they will likely suggest some amendments.
The bill joins North Coast Assemblyman Jim Wood's proposed law that would bring marijuana under the purview of water agencies, as well as a "flurry" of medical marijuana bills surfacing in the capital.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom hosted the first of a series of hearings aimed at creating regulations for statewide legalization in 2016. The forum, held at University of California Los Angeles, heard concerns from marijuana advocates and law enforcement officials, including former District Attorney Paul Gallegos, who was there to tell the Gav about environmental problems associated with cultivation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"We need to see this problem as an opportunity to develop a regulatory scheme," Gallegos was quoted as saying.
Oregon lawmakers, meanwhile, are getting backlash for circulating a bill that would limit the number of plants that medical marijuana growers can cultivate. The measure is being proposed to limit black market dealings once Oregon's voter-approved recreational legalization goes into effect in July, but advocates are concerned that limits — 96 plants for established medical growers and 48 plants for new ones — will make it hard for patients to get cheap and reliable access to marijuana.
The rift extends to the marijuana industry. According to the Oregonian, an attorney for an industry PAC has praised the proposed law, saying it will "help Oregon develop a strong legal market."
Willie Nelson is riding the rising marijuana tide to a resurgence, recently releasing a memoir in which he talks about smoking a joint on the White House roof and discovering the hippie lifestyle. A new duet with outlaw country compatriot Merle Haggard, titled "It's All Going to Pot," dropped on 4/20. And, following in the footsteps of high musician icon Bob Marley (or, more accurately, Marley's still-living estate holders), the "On the Road Again" singer is launching his own personal brand of weed: Willie's Reserve. Here's hoping it comes with a bandana.