Lawmakers in California have taken a page from laws establishing sanctuary cities for immigrants to create a bill aimed at protecting marijuana from a federal restriction. Similar to laws defending undocumented immigrants, the recently introduced Assembly Bill 1578 would bar cooperation by police in the state with federal authorities seeking to bust marijuana growers and sellers operating legally under California law.
The proposed legislation would prohibit state and local agencies from using local money, facilities, or personnel to assist a federal agency to “investigate, detain, report, or arrest” any person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical marijuana activity that is authorized by law in the State of California, and transferring an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement.”
Authorities in California would also be restricted from responding to requests by federal authorities for the personal information of anyone issued state licenses for a marijuana operation. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D), the lead sponsor of the bill, said the measure would protect “one of the greatest businesses” in California amid fears of a crackdown by the Trump administration.
Dale Gieringer, state coordinator of California NORML said, “This is the equivalent of noncooperation on deportation and environmental laws, part of the larger California resistance to federal intrusion.” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association stated, “It really is quite offensive. Legislators want to direct law enforcement how they want us to work.”
The first state to make medical marijuana legal was California, and last year it passed a referendum making recreational marijuana legal as well. Currently, medical marijuana use is legal in 28 states and the nation’s capital. Recreational use is legal in eight states and Washington, D.C. States are now girding for a fight with the feds. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. White House press secretary Sean Spicer has warned of “greater enforcement” on recreational marijuana use. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last year that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”