California state lawmakers are scheduled to hear testimony tomorrow in support of taxing and regulating the commercial production and distribution of marijuana for adults age 21 and older.
[Paul Armentano 10/29 update: Archived video of the entire hearing is now available online here. The hearing is three hours long and archived in three separate parts.] [Paul Armentano updates: Just a quick update for folks. There is extensive media coverage of today’s hearing. Go to Google News and type in “Ammiano marijuana.” There are well over 100 news items, ranging from the New York Times to UPI to Bloomberg to AP, etc. The hearings were also carried live on The California Channel, but the video has not yet been archived. (Check back to the Cal Channel website tomorrow or Friday, but here’s a five minute clip care of youtube.) NORML’s testimony from today is available here and here. Following the hearing, many of us met with numerous key lawmakers (and their staff) on the Public Safety and Health Committees to discuss the issue further. (I had four meetings myself.)
As for “what’s next?” First off, this was an INFORMATIONAL HEARING only. There will be NO Committee vote at this time. There will likely be a second informational hearing scheduled before the Assembly Committee on Health. After that, the Public Safety Committee is anticipated to hold a separate hearing specific to AB 390, the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act in January 2010. IF we have the votes at that time to pass the bill out of Committee, the Chair (who is the bill’s sponsor) will call it for a vote sometime this spring. If we don’t have the votes on the Committee, then the bill will languish in Committee. It’s that simple.] Members of the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety have called for the hearing, entitled “Examining the Fiscal and Legal Implication of the Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana.” The hearing will be chaired by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), sponsor of Assembly Bill 390, the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act. It will take place at 10am in room 126 of the State Capitol.
A press conference will take place prior to the hearing at 9 am in Capitol Room 317.
California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer is scheduled to testify before the Committee at noon. [Editor’s note: Read Dale’s written testimony here.] NORML has also submitted prepared testimony to the Committee, which is available online here.
Several representatives from law enforcement, including the California Police Chiefs Association and the Office of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, are scheduled to testify in opposition to the bill.
“The criminal prohibition of marijuana provides law enforcement and state regulators with no legitimate market controls,” states NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano in prepared testimony. “This absence of state and local government controls jeopardizes rather than promotes public safety. I urge this Committee to move forward with the enactment of sensible regulations for legalizing marijuana.”
Tomorrow’s hearing marks one of the first times since 1913 that the California legislature has debated ending criminal prohibition.
If you live in California you can contact your member of the Assembly in advance of tomorrow’s historic hearing here.