Making Sense of the MMRSA Drafting Error

Please turn to section 11362.777(c)(4)

Assemblyman Jim Wood intended lay the ground work the regulation of medical marijuana in California with the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). The act consisted of a trio of bills, AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643. The package of bills passed through the state legislature with convincing majority votes and became law Jan. 1, 2016.

Then conflicting interpretations surfaced regarding Health and Safety Code section 11362.777(c)(4).

The clause in question comes from AB 243 and states:

If a city, county, or city and county does not have land use regulations or ordinances regulating or prohibiting the cultivation of marijuana . . . , then commencing March 1, 2016, the [Department of Food and Agriculture] shall be the sole licensing authority for medical marijuana cultivation applicants in that city, county, or city and county.

Assemblyman Wood intended that to be read as the Department of Food and Agriculture would take over licensing authority until the city or county had acted on the regulatory matter. Others read it as the Department of Food and Agriculture would take over medical marijuana cultivation applicants for ever, had the local government not acted. March 1, 2016 appeared a hard deadline by this interpretation.

No matter the interpretation, March 1, 2015 is a rapid approaching deadline for local governments to figure out land use rules for a newly regulated industry.

Assemblyman Wood has acted swiftly to provide a remedy in the form of AB 21.