State Senate Health Committee to examine marijuana bill |

State Senate Health Committee to examine marijuana bill

A bill that would remove a March 1 deadline for local governments to pass marijuana laws is scheduled for a committee hearing today, despite its author pulling it from consideration last week.

Assembly Bill 21, which Nevada County authorities used as a reason for the Board of Supervisors to pass an urgency ordinance restricting outdoor grows, is scheduled today for the state Senate Health Committee. If passed from that committee, it would proceed on Thursday to the full Senate. Its next step would be a vote by the full Assembly. Successful votes in both chambers would send it to the governor’s desk, possibly before the month’s end.

“I think that’s a realistic possibility,” said Paul Ramey, spokesman for the bill’s author.

Assemblyman Jim Wood, who wrote AB 21, pulled the bill from the Health Committee’s schedule last week. The bill reappeared on the schedule after discussions occurred with the ACLU and Drug Policy Alliance, both of which want the bill to restrict local governments from banning grows for personal use.

“At the end of the day, this is going to look different,” Ramey said.

According to Nevada City attorney Heather Burke, the current bill would allow qualified patients and caregivers to forego obtaining state and local permits to grow. They must still obey the local board’s ordinance.

Last year’s sweeping statewide marijuana legislation set a March 1 deadline for cities and counties to pass their own marijuana ordinances. The state would impose its own rules if local governments failed to meet that deadline.

Wood said there was no intention to impose that short timeline on local governments.

Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal pointed last week to the deadline, arguing the local Board of Supervisors should pass an urgency ordinance restricting grows. The board agreed and immediately banned outdoor grows, limited indoor grows to 12 plants and forbade any commercial grows.

Nevada County residents will vote this June on the ban.

According to Wood, many cities and counties implemented marijuana bans because of the deadline.

“It feels like a bit of it is a rush to ban somewhat indiscriminately,” Wood said. “I think it’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction.”

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

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