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Hope Net Dispensary in San Francisco
Co-founder Catherine Smith smokes marijuana at the HopeNet dispensary in San Francisco on April 10, 2012. Paul Kitagaki Jr. The Sacramento Bee file

With legalization looming on the horizon, California lawmakers are already grappling over how to treat marijuana in a state with some of the strictest tobacco regulations in the country.

A new bill from Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, would extend to medical marijuana a 2011 law that permitted landlords to prohibit the smoking of cigarettes and other tobacco products on their rental properties. If voters pass a November ballot measure legalizing recreational use, it would apply to all marijuana.

At an Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, where AB 2300 advanced unanimously, Wood pointed to preliminary research from UC San Francisco that found pot smoke can damage your heart and blood vessels as much as cigarette smoke.

“Secondhand smoke, regardless of whether it’s smoke from tobacco or marijuana, is especially problematic in multiunit apartments and condos because the smoke easily travels the windows, doors and other ventilation systems,” Wood said. “It’s a nuisance that tenants should not have to live with.”

California law already prohibits smoking medical marijuana anywhere tobacco is banned, which includes most public places. But the bill sponsor, the California Apartment Association, said it is important to give landlords explicit authority to forbid pot smoke on their properties, since it can create tension among tenants.

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Some advocates have raised concerns that AB 2300 would infringe on the rights of patients under Proposition 215, the medical marijuana legalization act passed by California voters in 1996. The largest marijuana user organizations are neutral on the bill, though they told the committee they may be able to support it if an exemption is included for those who “vaporize” cannabis, which may fall under the legal definition of smoking.

“Prop. 215 does not specifically mention the right to smoke marijuana,” Wood said. “Qualified patients will still be able to obtain and use medical marijuana through all other non-smoking ways,” such as edibles and oils.

AB 2300 is now eligible to be taken up on the Assembly floor.

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