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California Assembly passes bill on marijuana enforcement

Possession and use of marijuana may be legal in California in certain circumstances, but that hasn't closed the door on the issue of whether or not one can be charged with a drug crime involving marijuana in California. This is because, despite what California law says, marijuana use and possession is still against federal law.

However, the California Assembly recently approved a measure that would make California a "sanctuary state," meaning that officers in California will not help with the enforcement of federal marijuana laws unless there is a court order to do so. Through this bill, officers in California would not assist federal drug agents when it comes to the arrest of those who are abiding by California's marijuana laws. The bill narrowly passed in a 41-32 vote, and will now go on to the California Senate.

The bill's author, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, claims that this bill is necessary because the current presidential administration has stated it will resume enforcing federal laws against marijuana use. However, area law enforcement oppose the measure, as did some assemblymen who believed it would hinder the ability of state police officers to work together with federal officers to apprehend those who are breaking the law. That being said, the bill's author has stated that he would consider revisions that would allow for the cooperation between state and federal officers in cases in which someone was in violation of state marijuana laws.

Marijuana use may be legal in California under certain circumstances, but there is always a grey area in its legality, as it is not legal on a federal level. It remains to be seen how this bill will progress through the California legislative system. In the meantime, those with questions about how this bill might affect them may want to seek the advice of an attorney.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "California could be a 'sanctuary state' from federal pot laws, thanks to razor-thin vote," Patrick McGreevy, June 1, 2017

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