It took nearly two decades and the threat of a more sweeping initiative, but California lawmakers are finally ready to regulate medical marijuana.
The last-minute, bipartisan deal was announced late Thursday night in Sacramento, after years of disagreements between key stakeholders over details of a regulatory structure -- and weeks of squabbling between the Senate and Assembly over who would take credit for the final legislation.
Gov. Jerry Brown's administration stepped in late last week with compromise legislation that pulled details from a number of existing proposals, but leaves many of the final details to be sorted out by a to-be-created state regulatory agency.
The proposals would create a new agency, the state Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, under the Department of Consumer Affairs. The bureau would be charged with licensing the entire medical marijuana supply chain -- including the growing process, testing to ensure safety, transportation, distribution and sales.
Cities and counties could still enforce their own laws, including levying taxes, imposing a separate licensing structure or banning marijuana growing and distribution entirely. But patient and caregiver rights established by the original 1996 medical marijuana ballot measure, Proposition 215, would not be affected.