California could become sanctuary state for marijuana

April 3, 2017

A bill introduced in the California Legislature calls for applying sanctuary city rules to federal marijuana enforcement efforts.

Assembly Bill 1578 would bar state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal crackdowns on legal marijuana growers and sellers in California.

The bill is modeled after sanctuary city rules that shield illegal immigrants from federal agents.
If adopted, AB 1578 would prohibit state and local agencies, unless served a court order order, from using money, facilities or personnel to help federal agents investigate, detain, report or arrest any marijuana activity that is allowable under California law.

The bill would pertain to commercial and noncommercial cannabis activity, as well as medical marijuana.

Additionally, the bill would bar state and local officers from transferring an individual to federal authorities for the purpose of marijuana enforcement.

Likewise, state and local officials would be barred from responding to requests by federal agents for the personal information belonging to anyone who has been issued state licenses for a cannabis operation.

Democratic Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, the lead sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would protect “one of the greatest businesses” in California amid fears of a crackdown by the Trump administration.

Marijuana currently remains illegal under federal law, and the Trump administration has given mixed signals as to its plans on enforcement.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has warned of greater enforcement on recreational pot use, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

However, last month Sessions suggested he might not go to war over pot and that the Obama administration issued valid guidance that paved the way for states to legalize cannabis.

Nonetheless, the Drug Enforcement Agency recently requested information from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office about marijuana cases in the state.

California law enforcement officials have reacted angrily to the proposal to create a sanctuary state for pot.Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, the president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, told the Los Angeles Times the bill is quite offensive and that legislators “want to direct law enforcement how they want us to work.”