Katherine DeMetre | Infocast
A new proposed bill in California could protect legal cannabis enterprises from federal prosecution.
California Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer has recently introduced an assembly bill called AB 1578, which could prohibit California law enforcement from helping a federal agency “investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person” for recreational or medicinal cannabis activity.
Jones-Sawyer, a long time advocate for the cannabis industry, told LA Weekly that the bill plans to protect “one of the greatest businesses” in California.
The lawmaker emphasized, however, that the law would only apply to legal cannabis operations. There are currently over 100 legal dispensaries in Los Angeles, but over 1,000 dispensaries remain illegal.
“I’m not impeding in any way, shape or fashion, law enforcement’s ability to go after those illegal ones,” Jones-Sawyer told Leafly. “In fact, I encourage it.”
The new proposed bill will have its first hearing on Apr 18 in the Assembly’s Committee of Public Safety, with Jones-Sawyer as chairman. With the Democratic majority in both houses, the legislation looks like it has “every likelihood of passing,” said Darren W. Parker, Special Assistant to the Speaker, to Leafly.
California is not the only state working to block federal interruption.
In Oregon, legislators are considering what they call an “emergency act” to protect residents who legally buy cannabis. Dispensaries in the state are required to record the personal information from customers, but under the proposed bill, retailers would have to destroy the information within 48 hours and would not be able to share the information.
In Washington, Attorney General Bob Ferguson sent a letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month where he asked him to respect the Cole Memorandum. In Colorado, pending legislation would allow 500 or more recreational growers to re-classify their cannabis as medicinal if the federal government comes knocking.
As legal states fight back – only time will tell when the federal government will loosen up on their prohibition.