Friday, June 7, 2013

California Narcotics Officers Association Report - Mr. John Lovell, Lobbyist - CNOA and California Police Chiefs Association

Mr. John Lovell - CNOA Lobbyist

 June 02, 2013, 11:11:37 PM PDT

This past week saw CNOA pull off what is being regarded as one of the biggest legislative upsets of the year.

Assembly Bill 473, by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, would give legal legitimacy to California’s marijuana dispensaries and put them under the “oversight” of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

The bill had been moving through committees on party line votes, with all Democrats in committees (except for one in Assembly Appropriations) voting for the bill and all Republicans voting against the bill.

Since Democrats control the Assembly by a fifty-three to twenty-six majority, the conventional wisdom was that the bill would move off the floor and over to the Senate by a comfortable margin.

A funny thing happened on the Assembly floor last week.

Not enough Democrats voted for the bill.

In fact, only 35 of the 53 Assembly Democrats voted for the bill.

Not a single Republican voted for AB 473.

This united phalanx of Republicans was joined by the following 18 Democrats includingAssembly Members:

Luis Alego,
Robert Blumenfield,
Cheryl Brown,
Joan Buchanan,
Ian Calderon,
Tom Daly,
Nora  Campos,
Steve Fox,
Jim Frazier,
Mike Gatto,
Adam Gray,
Chris Holden,
Jose Medina,
Al Muratsuchi,
Henry Perea,
V. Manuel Perez,
Sharon Quirk-Silva
and Rudy Salas

The magnitude of the upset is better understood against the backdrop of the reality that some of the most prestigious lobbying firms in the Capitol were button-holing members to vote for this bill.  There is a lot of money to be made in “medical” marijuana, and some major interests have moved into the legalizer camp.

Victories like this don’t come alone, and CNOA was joined in opposition to AB 473 by the California Police Chiefs Association, the California District Attorneys Association, as well as every sworn rank and file organization except for PORAC and the California Highway Patrol Association. 

Special credit must also be accorded to CNOA’s last two citizens of the year, Carla Lowe, President of Californians Against Marijuana, who organized a robust grass roots movement against the bill, and Bishop Ron Allen, Chair of the International Faith Based Coalition, who personally lobbied Legislators against the bill.

There is still much to do – Ammiano has vowed to resurrect his bill, there a number of bad bills that we need to stop that are moving through the process, and we need to build momentum to resurrect CNOA’s drugged driving bill, but this was a victory that was noticed at the Capitol and may portend a shift in Legislative opinion on controlled substance issues.