Less than 48 hours after the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors passed a rushed ordinance to regulate commercial cultivation of medical marijuana locally, the California state legislature agreed to delete the March 1 deadline that inspired the county’s rushed process.

[ADDENDUM: After this post went live, Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace posted the following message on Facebook regarding the deadline: 

The dreaded March 1st deadline has always been a bit of a red herring. This erroneous date had been flagged even before the MMRSA (Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act) was signed, and Assemblyman Jim Wood had pledged to introduce legislation in the new year to repeal it. The bigger driver has always been the need to get some form of regulation in place for the start of this year’s cultivation season, which generally corresponds to that same time of year. Full implementation of the County’s ordinance will take time, and the State licensing with which it must interact will not come into play until 2018, but we are still in a much better position for the future by having something on the books today.]

Humboldt is so far the only county in the state to pass such regulations. Many other local jurisdictions — also motivated by the March 1 deadline — elected to enact an outright ban on commercial medical cultivation. Thanks to a drafting error, the deadline made its way into Assemblymember Jim Wood’s AB 243, part of the California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. 

After discovering the error, Wood worked to introduce emergency legislation, AB 21, to redact the deadline. Now that the legislature has passed it, the bill just needs Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature and it will become law. In the meantime, all the local bans enacted over the past weeks remain in effect.

Here’s the press release from Jim Wood’s office:

Today the California State Assembly unanimously (66-0) passed AB 21, Assemblyman Wood’s emergency measure to repeal the March 1st deadline included in last year’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. 

AB 21 removes the March 1st deadline ensuring local jurisdictions maintain the authority to develop their own rules and regulations for cultivating medical cannabis indefinitely.

Assemblyman Wood said, “I am not advocating for or against a particular position on medical cannabis. I am advocating for local elected officials take the time to engage in a process that results good public policy, not knee jerk reactions.”

“Despite the people who said it couldn’t be done, this fix took the Legislature less than a month.  As a result the burdensome March 1st deadline will be repealed nearly a month before it would have gone into effect,” said Assemblyman Wood.  “Unfortunately cities were advised to act as fast as possible to ban activities of this industry because it was the easiest thing to do.  I have already spoken to the executive director of the League of California Cities, expressing my hope that they will join me in encouraging locals to develop thoughtful, reasonable regulations moving forward.   I hope they will work as vigorously to stop and undo placeholder bans as they did to roll them out.”

AB 21 is now on the Governor’s desk for signature. The Governor has publicly indicated he would sign a legislative fix to the March 1 deadline. Upon receiving the Governor’s signature the legislation will take effect immediately.