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California lawmakers pass bill prohibiting state assistance in enforcement of federal marijuana laws

[JURIST] The California State Assembly [official website] passed a bill [text] on Thursday with the bare minimum 41 out of 80 votes [vote count] that, if passed by the Senate, will prohibit state and local authorities from assisting federal agencies in the enforcement of marijuana laws without a court order. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer [official website], who authored and introduced the bill, says [LA Times report] the law is necessary because "[p]rohibiting [California's] 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." Many opponents of the bill, including Republican lawmakers and local law enforcement leaders, have criticized the proposed legislation. An official statement [text] from the California State Sheriffs' Association (CSSA) in response to lawmakers' trend toward legalization says that "California Sheriffs strongly reject the notion that marijuana is harmless... Our message is clear: marijuana is a dangerous drug and California should not legitimize its use." Donny Youngblood, president of the CSSA, is critical of the current non-cooperation bill [LA Times report], calling the legislation "quite offensive" to law enforcement.

As more states have enacted legislation legalizing marijuana, many lawmakers have become concerned by the anti-marijuana policies promoted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions [official profile]. Before Sessions's confirmation, Hilary Bricken of the Canna Law Group [advocacy website] wrote [JURIST op-ed] about how the Trump administration could impact the status of cannabis at the state level. In April, marijuana advocates at an annual gathering in Washington D.C. discussed [NPR report] their uneasiness with Sessions' positions. Elsewhere in North America, marijuana legalization has become a priority. The Mexico Chamber of Deputies [official website] approved [JURIST report] a bill in April allowing the use, production and distribution of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes. Also in April Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker [official website] signed [JURIST report] Senate Bill 10, legalizing the medicinal use of a marijuana extract, into law. In March a government official from Canada announced [JURIST report] the country's intention to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018.

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