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Since the passing of Proposition 215 in 1996, medical marijuana has been legal in the California. Almost 20 years later, the state is creating an oversight agency to govern marijuana regulation.

The California Assembly approved Bill 266 on June 4 with a 50-5 vote.

The bill is authored by Rob Bonta, D-Oakland and would cooperate with other state departments to regulate and license medical marijuana dispensaries and monitor cultivation, manufacturing, and testing of the marijuana. Bonta believes the it is time for this nearly 20 years after the original legalization:

“Since the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, we’ve had very little additional regulation to protect the health of patients, their safety, to protect the environment, to protect public safety, and it’s about time that we do that.”

The bill, which is a union of two bills originally brought to the Assembly this year for medical marijuana regulation, would allow local municipalities to handle land use, zoning issues and ban dispensaries if they feel the need.

Statewide regulations have garnered support from others around the state, including Eugene Davidovich, the leader of the medical marijuana advocacy group Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access. In reference to Bill 266, Davidovich reported:

“We need statewide regulations that would provide clarity for the community. Clarity is what patients have been asking for since 1996. We haven’t seen the final bill yet and the devil is always in the details.”

Alex Kreit is the current law professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former member of the city’s San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Task Force Committee. Kreit believes that standard regulation guidelines have been needed statewide in California for a long time:

“California was a leader in medical marijuana, and now we’ve really fallen behind because we don’t have statewide regulations. Cities really just aren’t equipped to do the kind of health and regulatory oversight for medicine.”

Bill 266 will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

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