2012 was supposed to be a big year for marijuana decriminalization advocates. After the near-passage of 2010's full-legalization effort in California, there was resolve to return to the ballot this November.
But all proponents could really muster was a bill by Bay Area Assemblyman Tom Ammiano that would establish statewide regulation of medical dispensaries and essentially prohibit cities from banning them.
Well, AB 2312 had a good run, but this week Ammiano quashed it:
He pulled it from consideration by the Senate's Businesses, Professions and Economic Development Committee this week after acknowledging it didn't have the votes to pass: "Certainly in counting noses, the noses weren't there even in committee," he said, according to the Sacramento Bee.
There was also opposition ... from both sides of the issue.
Law-and-order groups were worried that it would hamstring cities like L.A. that are grappling with a massive, for-profit pot shop environment (at last count there were more than 500 dispensaries in the city).
Under Ammiano's proposal, power to enforce cannabis outlets would have been put into the hands of a Sacramento-based Bureau of Medical Marijuana Enforcement.
A law enforcement group said in a letter opposing the bill that it would be a "giant permission slip for medical marijuana stores to operate in a virtual unfettered manner."
And then this: Our sister publication SF Weekly reported that an "unfriendly" amendment essentially muting the bill's raison d'etre, prohibiting cities from banning pot shops, was inserted.
That caused Americans for Safe Access to pull support for the bill, ASA spokesman Kris Hermes confirmed to L.A. Weekly. ASA state director Don Duncan has been a vocal pot shop advocate at L.A. City Hall.
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The Ammiano bill was a redux of one that ASA originally intended to take directly to voters in November but, lacking funding, seemed to resurrect via the Democrat.
Ammiano admitted the bill was all but dead for this legislative session, but he indicated that he would be back for more.
In the meantime, the L.A. City Council is on the verge of banning all pot shops within Los Angeles.