California Could Become Nation’s First ‘Sanctuary State’ For Weed
Democratic lawmakers hope to protect legal marijuana from the feds
California is once again showing its interest in pushing back against the federal government. First, the state made clear its intention to resist immigration policy – and now, it may be pushing to protect state-sanctioned pot.
Democratic lawmakers in California have advanced a bill aimed to bar local cops and sheriffs from working with the federal law authorities to crack down on marijuana activity deemed legal by the state, a scenario that’s become a distinct possibility under the Trump administration.
The proposed measure would prevent local law enforcement from using state resources to “assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California” — unless ordered by a judge, according to a published draft of the legislation. The bill, which cleared the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, would also prevent these agencies from turning over personal information or records of people who have received commercial marijuana licenses from the state.
If these proposed measures happen to ring a bell it’s no coincidence: they closely mirror another bill before lawmakers that would make California a so-called “sanctuary state” for immigrants living there illegally. Under Senate Bill 54, state and local law enforcement would be restricted from cooperating with federal immigration officials seeking to detain and deport undocumented residents.
Both measures come as the White House shows signs that it plans to ramp up federal enforcement on immigration and marijuana. President Trump has already signed executive orders that vastly expand the pool of undocumented immigrants who are priorities for deportation. In February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicated that the Department of Justice planned to crack down on marijuana sales in states that sold recreational weed. Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime foe of marijuana, has repeatedly condemned its use and sale throughout the U.S. in recent weeks — often with feverish and largely unsubstantiated claims.
California is among the eight states, as well as Washington, D.C., where recreational marijuana is now legal — and a multi-billion dollar industry that’s created thousands of jobs. California’s weed industry is currently valued at $6 billion dollars and employs thousands of people.