Conway bill to push marijuana stores farther from schools dies in committee

The Fresno BeeMarch 11, 2014 

Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway

THE SACRAMENTO BEE

A bill that would increase the distance between medical marijuana dispensaries and schools has been blocked by the Assembly Public Safety Committee, Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway said Tuesday.

Conway, R-Tulare, is the author of AB1588, which would widen from 600 feet to 1,000 feet the radius from a public or private school that a dispensary may operate.

In a party-line vote Tuesday, the committee voted against sending the bill to the Appropriations Committee for a review of its fiscal impact on the state, Conway's office said. The committee staff could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but a bill analysis states, "localities are free to establish their own regulations" about setting distance limits from schools.

The bill also would require a minimum $500 fine for anyone caught growing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school. Medical marijuana users with proper medical marijuana identification cards and their personal primary caregivers would be exempt.

Except for medical marijuana, it's a felony to grow marijuana in California.

Conway's bill, introduced last month, followed reports in The Bee last year of busts near schools as growers moved out of mountain hideaways to plant marijuana on the Valley floor. The growers claimed their sites comply with the state's medical marijuana law.

In mid-September, 400 fully budded plants ready for harvest were found within 75 yards of Coarsegold Elementary in Madera County, and the same month a large growing operation was found near Willow International Community College Center and within a quarter mile of Clovis Unified's Riverview Elementary School.

"Recently, there have been several large drug busts of thousands of marijuana plants worth millions of dollars confiscated by police within plain sight of elementary schools," Conway said in a statement. "My legislation would have helped law enforcement address this serious and growing problem."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com or @fb_LewGriswold on Twitter.

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