City of Richmond to Feds: We Won’t Help You Bust Our Residents for Pot

Last night, Richmond City Council declared that it won’t use city resources to help the federal government apprehend people for marijuana.

The council adopted a resolution in solidarity with a state bill that would prohibit state and local agencies from assisting the feds in any efforts to bust individuals for marijuana offenses legal under state law (unless directed to do so by a court order). Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, an L.A.-based Democrat, introduced the bill in late February, and it passed the Assembly last Thursday by a vote of 41 to 32.

Richmond is the second East Bay city, after Oakland, to support this bill, and the third in the state, with the West Hollywood also sending in a letter of support. The California Growers Association also has a petition on its website in favor of the bill with more than 300 signatures.

Former President Barak Obama’s administration assured states that lawful marijuana would not be subject to harassment or arrest by the federal government. According to an Assembly analysis, A.B. 1578 was drafted because the Trump administration has swayed the other direction, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinting at a possible crackdown on cannabis offenders.

“Considering Proposition 64 just passed in California, and here in Richmond we have a cultivation tax on the books, I don’t think it makes sense for us to be supporting the federal government with our local resources to go after any of these actors,” Councilmember Melvin Willis, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said at the June 6 meeting.

While Californians legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and recreational adult use last November, cannabis remains on the federal controlled substances list, and is therefore illegal at the federal level. A.B. 1578 would not stop state or local agencies from assisting the feds to go after anyone operating outside of state law, i.e. those in possession of large amounts or cultivating, processing, or distributing without the proper license.

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