Marijuana bill AB 21 passes state Senate, heads to Assembly |

Marijuana bill AB 21 passes state Senate, heads to Assembly

The California Senate on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would correct language in statewide marijuana law, sending the legislation to the state Assembly.

AB 21, which passed 35 to 3, would remove a March 1 deadline for city and county governments that has led many of them to rush to pass local ordinances regulating marijuana. The bill also contains language that state Sen. Mike McGuire said ensures local governments retain local control over land use and enables qualified patients and caregivers get their medicine.

The bill now proceeds to the Assembly Rules Committee, where it could reach the floor of the Assembly by Wednesday. It would be ready for the governor’s desk by Feb. 1, if it passes the Assembly.

Existing marijuana law states that local governments have until March 1 to pass ordinances regulating marijuana. If they fail to have a local law in place, the state would step in with its own regulations.

“AB 21 represents the true intention of the original legislation,” said McGuire, who spoke on behalf of Assemblyman Jim Wood’s bill.

State Sen. Jim Nielsen spoke against the bill minutes before the vote.

“As we vote, we have to think about what will be the impact to our children,” he said.

“I decided last year I had to draw a line in the sand,” Nielsen added moments later.

Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal on Jan. 12 used the uncertain status of AB 21 as one reason the Board of Supervisors should implement an urgency ordinance.

The local board heeded Royal’s recommendation and passed an immediate ban on outdoor grows and limited indoor grows to 12 plants.

Voters will have their say on the local ban in June.

According to Royal, the bill would have died if stakeholders failed to find compromise, which they reached after the local board’s Jan. 12 vote.

“We’ve established some protocols,” Royal added. “In June, the public has that final say — is this what they want in Nevada County?”

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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