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Capitol Roundup: Controversial Community College, Medical Marijuana Bills Advance

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, May 20, 2013
"Two-Tiered" Community College Courses Bill Passes Assembly
The controversial idea of increasing access to California's community college system by adding higher-priced classes is moving forward in the state legislature.  The Assembly approved a proposal Monday that would allow such classes between terms.
Assemblyman Das Williams acknowledges his bill is imperfect but says it's necessary to improve access to California's over-enrolled community colleges.  "If you fear a two-tiered education system, I gotta wake you up - it's already here!  There's one tier that can get in and there's one tier that is locked out." (D-Santa Barbara).
But the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office strongly opposes the measure - as do some Democrats.    "To say it's okay to charge some students one tuition level and others another to me is just not what it means to have a college system that serves all the students in the state of California," says Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo).
The measure passed the Assembly by a vote of 48 to 12.  It now moves to the California Senate.
Senate Seeks to Give More Legal Certainty to Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
A bill that would protect medical marijuana dispensaries that follow California law from federal prosecution has passed the state Senate.
Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg is the measure's author.  He says it's an effort to give more certainty to dispensaries caught between state and federal law.  California allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes.  Federal law does not. 
"It does not create a blanket prosecution exemption for all dispensaries," says Steinberg.  "It only provides that exemption for dispensaries that are in full compliance with California law."
But Republican Senator Jim Nielsen says California's medical marijuana law has led to the "carte blanche" use by many people who aren't sick - and he fears this bill would make matters worse.  "This is a step in the wrong direction - and it is contrary, I will note, to federal law," says Nielsen.
The measure passed the Senate 22-14, with Republicans opposed and a few Democrats either voting no or abstaining.  It now moves to the Assembly.
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