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California Assembly Approves Bill to Become Cannabis “Sanctuary State”

The bill would prevent local law police from assisting federal marijuana enforcement.

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The California Assembly just approved a measure that would prohibit state and local police from assisting federal drug enforcement agents in interfering with any marijuana user or canna-business that is complying with state marijuana laws. The bill narrowly passed the Assembly with a 41-32 vote, and must still be approved by the Senate before moving on to the Governor's desk to be signed into law.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, sponsor of the bill, argued that this legislation needs to be enacted quickly to protect the state's nascent marijuana industry from a federal crackdown that has been threatened by the Trump administration. “AB 1578 ensures that our limited local and state resources are not spent on federal marijuana enforcement against individuals and entities that are in compliance with our laws,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Republican lawmakers and state law enforcement officials opposed the bill, arguing that state police and federal authorities often needed to collaborate in order to investigate any drug activity that is still illegal under state law. The bill “would interfere with local and state agencies’ ability to cooperate with the federal government,” Assemblyman James Gallagher argued. “This is bad policy.”

Jones-Sawyer said that he was open to revising the language of the bill to ensure that cooperation between federal and state authorities would continue in cases where state marijuana laws were being violated. The Assemblyman noted that there were around 1,400 illegal cannabis businesses in LA that the state wants to shut down.

On the same day, the Assembly approved another bill that merges medical marijuana laws with Proposition 64. This bill would allow for-profit medical cannabis facilities, ban marijuana billboards on highways, and provide $3 million to the California Highway Patrol to develop drugged-driving enforcement.

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