“The good news is that progress was made today,” said William Caruso, a former high-ranking Democratic aide, a longtime legalization advocate who heads the cannabis law practice at Archer Public Affairs. “The bad news is the governor, the Senate and the Assembly still can’t reach an agreement. And it appears this bill has gone off the rails yet again.”
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo put it this way: “We have two bills that are completely not alike. They will have to be negotiated.” He said the Senate amendments were finished around 5:30 p.m., but he did not reveal in detail the nature of the changes. The committee then passed its version. And then they cancelled their floor session that had been scheduled for Monday.
“We’re moving closer to the long-overdue need to end cannabis prohibition,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union), one of the bill sponsors. “So much time, effort, and thought have gone into this bill. We continue conversations, for what I believe, has produced a stronger piece of legislation with a focused eye toward social justice and equity.”
The bill was pulled last Thursday after a chorus of complaints protested the fact that none of the anticipated tax revenue had been earmarked for social justice programs.
After nearly three hours of contentious testimony, the Assembly Appropriations Committee passed an amended bill around 2 p.m. The Senate committee started its hearing around 4 p.m., two hours later than scheduled, as members and staffers were furiously editing changes into the legislation.