Medical Marijuana Activists Occupy the Capitol
May 22nd, 2012
As the pleasant Sacramento spring turns into the furnace of the
Central Valley summer, so too is the heat turned up in the corridors of
the state Capitol: It's budget season, and it's also last call for
certain bills stalled in the Legislature to get a hearing before a June 1
deadline sends them into limbo.
This means it's also prime time for rallies on the Capitol steps. And Monday was a busy day at the podium for Assemblyman Tom Ammiano
. The San Francisco Democrat was out front of the state dome twice, rallying for bills he's authored reforming work rules for domestic workers
and -- what else? -- revamping the state's medical marijuana system.
wasn't alone -- and neither were his colleagues in the Legislature.
Some 300 cannabis advocates from across California shared the steps with
Ammiano -- and then shared the air with 120 of his fellow lawmakers, on
whose Capitol office doors they spent the afternoon knocking to drum up
support for AB 2312. You see, not only was it rally day, it was Lobby
Day. Occupy kids, take note.
The Lobby Day culminated a weekend-long organizing effort. Advocacy
group Americans for Safe Access's two-day Unity Conference, held over
the weekend in a Sacramento union hall, was intended to focus the often
cacophonous pro-marijuana voices into something legislators could listen
to -- and, hopefully, be swayed by.
There is a sense in
Sacramento that the medical marijuana industry as is has spun out of
control and that something must be done. Other legislators have
sponsored pot-related bills -- to impose DUI testing (dropped), to
create a statewide patient ID registry, to verify that dispensaries are
in fact legal. Ammiano's bill goes a few leaps further in creating a state-level medical marijuana bureaucracy.
bill does have some very familiar opposition, however -- as in all the
Sacramento law enforcement lobbies. The California District Attorneys
California Narcotic Officers Association, the
California Police Chiefs Association, and the
California State Sheriffs' Association are all opposing the
bill, and they all have significant clout with lawmakers in risky
Nonetheless, there's nothing quite like constituent face time, even if it's with Capitol office staffers.
the medical cannabis movement has shown state
legislators that we're diverse and we're organized," said
Steph Sherer, ASA's executive director, in a statement. "We've come
together to pass AB2312, to create sensible statewide
regulations for safe access for patients and safe communities
across the state of California."