Bonta Shares Recent Assembly Experiences

Courtesy Rob Bonta Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) speaks at a press conference called to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the three Assembly bills that make up the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. Assemblymembers Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), who, along with Bonta authored the bills, joined him at the podium. Brown signed the bills into law.

Part One

The regular session of the 2015-2016 California Legislature currently stands in recess. Assemblyman and former Vice-Mayor Rob Bonta visited the Alameda Sun to offer his perspective on how the current session is progressing.

Bonta said that the highlight of the current session for him was the passage and Gov. Jerry Brown’s subsequent signing of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. The act sets a precedent by establishing a comprehensive regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry.

The legislation behind the act included Bonta’s AB266, which sets up a medical marijuana bureau. Also part of the bill were Assemblyman Jim Wood’s (D-Healdsburg) AB243, authorizing the state to issue medical marijuana licenses and Sen. Mike McGuire’s (D-Healdsburg) SB643, policing clinics that issue medical marijuana licenses to people who do not have a health need for cannabis.

In a press release following Brown’s signature of the act, Bonta pointed out that the bill will impact patients who use medical marijuana, the medical marijuana industry itself, law enforcement and the environment.

"Patients will have assurances that their products are safe," Bonta said. He also pointed out that the new law would allow the industry to come out of the shadows and receive the same protections under the law as other state-licensed businesses.

Bonta also said that the act gives law enforcement "a foundation for identifying drugged drivers and increased funding to protect the public. The law also protects the environment from neglect, destruction, and water diversion. The state is scheduled to start issuing licenses to medical marijuana suppliers and distributors in 2018.

Bonta also shared his excitement and pride about Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins’ (D-San Diego) appointing him and Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) as co-chairs of the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color in California.

Bonta said that that as the first and only Filipino American ever elected to the California State Legislature and as a father raising a son with Black Puerto Rican heritage, he has a personal investment in and commitment to improving the life outcomes of young boys and men of color.

He pointed out that more than 70 percent of California youth under the age of 25 identify as people of color. "Boys and men of color, including African American, Latino, Asian, and Native Americans, often experience the triple barriers of low-income families, low-performing schools, and violent communities," he said.

Bonta hopes to find ways to minimize and remove barriers that prevent boys and men of color from achieving success by focusing on education, health, employment and juvenile justice.

In part two Bonta will share his thoughts on issues that include implementing Prop 47 and the passage of the state budget.