California Lawmakers Trying to Block Local Police from Helping Feds Fight Legal Pot

Photo by Nico Escondido

As the feds seem to be gearing up to do things they should not be doing on a state level, some California lawmakers are hoping to convince local cops not to help them carry out any possible plans to disrupt the state’s weed industry.

“Prohibiting our state and local law enforcement agencies from expending resources to assist federal intrusion of California-compliant cannabis activity reinforces… the will of our state’s voters who overwhelmingly supported Proposition 64,” said Los Angeles Democratic assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, who is the lead author of a new Senate bill.

Much like the same type of resistance displayed in Senate Bill 54, which moves California one step closer to becoming a sanctuary state for immigrants, Jones-Sawyer’s legislation would make California a sanctuary for the marijuana industry.

Introduced by six Democratic legislators, Assembly Bill 1578 would prohibit state and local agencies, unless served with a court order, from using agency money, facilities or personnel to assist the feds to “investigate, detain, report, or arrest” anyone for actions that are authorized by state law.

The bill also prevents California authorities from responding to requests by federal agencies for personal information of anyone issued state marijuana licenses.

Proponents are happy and say the measure is needed to assure pot growers and sellers that applying for state licenses will not make them vulnerable to arrest and prosecution under federal law.

Weed industry leaders, like Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, support the legislation.

“Businesses will need to feel confident that the state will protect them from the federal government,” said Allen, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a co-author of the measure, said the legislation is needed because of Trump’s threat to withhold federal funds from states that do not cooperate with federal authorities.

Thus far, that threat has been limited to immigration enforcement.

“As this administration has threatened to defund California, we should not be expending scarce local and state resources to assist the federal government in ways that run counter to the crystal-clear wishes of California voters,” Bonta said, adding that AB 1578, “will reassure responsible operators” that the state won’t turn them in to federal authorities.

But not everyone likes it.

Some law enforcement officials, reported the LA Times, see the measure as improper meddling.

“It really is quite offensive,” said Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, who said he objected to lawmakers “wanting to direct law enforcement how they want us to work.”

Assemblyman Bonta says it is important that the bill also protects the personal information of license holders.

“California is committed to not sharing licensee information with the federal government and thereby upholding the will of the voters in creating a safe marketplace for medical and adult use,” Bonta said.

Let’s just hope the feds don’t come calling and that none of this proves necessary.

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