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Local Governments Race to Pass Marijuana Measures in California

FILE - Marijuana plants for sale are displayed at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, July 11, 2014.

Local governments in California are pushing to meet a March 1 deadline for authorizing or outlawing marijuana cultivation.

Lawmakers say the deadline was included by mistake in California’s first comprehensive medical marijuana regulations, approved by the state's legislature in September.

At issue is one paragraph in the 70-page document that would give the state authority to license growers in jurisdictions that do not have laws on the books by March 1 specifically authorizing or outlawing marijuana cultivation.

An emergency bill to strike the deadline is ready to go through the state legislature. However, the League of California Cities is advising its members to enact bans ahead of the March 1 deadline as a precaution to preserve local control.

Unless local bans are lifted or modified, they would make medical marijuana growers in those areas automatically ineligible for the limited number of agriculture licenses to cultivate marijuana.

The state expects to start issuing licenses in 2018.

Pot advocates hoped the passage of comprehensive medical marijuana regulations would encourage cities that have outlawed pot-related businesses to reconsider.