Many headlines were made late in 2015 when Governor Brown signed MMRSA into law. But it was a tiny sentence with a March date that cities chose to focus on…cue widespread cultivation bans…and AB 21 to save the day, sort of!
Without this amendment to MMRSA, access to the healing powers of this special plant becomes more challenging.
As it originally stood, MMRSA mandated that the state of California be the sole authority responsible for licensing marijuana growers in areas without laws that specifically allow or outlaw cultivation. The deadline for having these laws in effect was March 1, 2016 – an infamous date now claimed to be added to the MMRSA by mistake.
Though this was caught very quickly once it became law, it wasn't until the calendar flipped to 2016 that hell broke loose.
Scores of cities and towns around California, uncomfortable with forfeiting their power to the state began a banning spree of all commercial marijuana cultivation. Furthermore, many municipalities even began prohibiting otherwise authorized MMJ users from growing their own. Still other communities were reviewing the process and policy before deciding how to act.
The deadline of March 2016 was preventing local officials from having time to thoughtfully approach how to regulate medical marijuana that best suited their respective communities. The result – if we don't have time to do this properly, we don't do it at all – and all out bans were enacted by a multitude of cities.
When Governor Jerry Brown's signature on February 3 enacted the new AB 21 into law, the marijuana prohibitions ceased – and any bans that did go into effect before AB 21 are now considered temporary and to be lifted soon, if not already.
Now that there is plenty of time between now and the implementation of MMRSA in 2018, local communities throughout the state will have time to develop and suitable draft regulations.
Without AB 21, the proliferation of bans would have strengthened marijuana's black market, which in turn would have made the struggle to get marijuana properly regulated, if not outright legalized, even more difficult than it already is.
With AB 21, there is one less obstacle in the path to regulation and, eventually, legalization.
Have a specific question about your situation? Confused about ever-changing state and federal laws? Contact us at Manzuri Law.