SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Law and order may soon be coming to the Wild West of weed.
A California lawmaker has introduced legislation to regulate the state's free-wheeling medical marijuana industry — the farmers that grow the drug, the hundreds of storefront shops that sell it and the doctors who write recommendations allowing its use.
The bill marks a milestone not only because it would provide significant state oversight of the multi-billion dollar industry for the first time, but because it is likely to get serious consideration in Sacramento after years of inaction.
It is the brainchild of the California Police Chiefs Association and the League of California Cities, politically influential groups that have stood in the way of efforts to legitimize pot growers and dispensaries by subjecting them to state control and taxation.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Democrats want to make an increase in the minimum wage a major campaign issue in 2014, but in California a proposal to push the mark to $12 an hour is coming from a registered Republican who once tried to unseat Gov. Pete Wilson.
Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ron Unz says a wage jump would nourish the economy and lift low-paid workers from dependency on food stamps and other government aid.
Democrats in Congress are pushing a bill to raise the $7.25 federal minimum to over $10 an hour.
Unz is a former publisher of The American Conservative magazine with a history of against-the-grain political activity, including pushing a 1998 ballot proposal that dismantled California's bilingual education system.
His proposal has not yet qualified for the state ballot.
ESCALON, Calif. (AP) - Authorities in California are trying to crack the case of a nut thief who made off with 140,000 pounds of walnuts.
The theft, estimated at nearly $400,000, occurred Sunday in the small Central Valley town of Escalon. Investigators say it was one of the biggest to hit the booming industry. Last month, about 12,000 pounds of walnuts worth $50,000 were stolen from a trailer parked on Highway 99 north of Sacramento.
This time several truckloads of walnuts were taken from the facility. Authorities say rising prices - about $2 per pound - is what appears to be driving the recent walnut thefts.
No arrests have yet been made.
Walnuts are California's fourth-leading agricultural export. China remains the world's leading producer of walnuts.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A reputed prison gang leader who was on probation in California has been captured in Missouri.
Forty-five-year-old Albert "Spanky" Amaya is jailed in Missouri's Pettis County while awaiting extradition. No attorney is listed for him in online Missouri court records.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Amays was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison in 2008 after he was convicted of extortion, his third felony conviction. But he was released in June after a voter-approved measure allowed "three strikes" inmates to seek re-sentencing.
The San Bernardino County district attorney's office placed him on GPS monitoring while seeking to send him back to prison. Authorities allege he was a crew chief for the Mexican Mafia prison gang and fled after cutting the GPS device.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The oil production technique known as fracking has been occurring on offshore platforms and man-made islands off some of Southern California's most populous coastal communities.
Interviews and drilling records obtained by The Associated Press show fracking has occurred at least 200 times over the past two decades in waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach.
Though there is no evidence offshore hydraulic fracturing has led to any spills or chemical leaks, the practice occurs with little state or federal oversight of the operations
The state agency that leases lands and waters to oil companies says officials found new instances of fracking after searching records as part of a review after the AP reported this summer about fracking in federal waters of California.
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Officials say up to five people have died after a car spun out and burst into flames early Saturday morning in Burbank, Calif., trapping people inside.
There was one survivor found about 50 yards from the burning Nissan when police arrived on the scene around 4 a.m. Sergeant Darin Ryburn says the 18-year-old woman was taken to Los Angeles County Medical Center. Fire Battalion Chief Ron Barone said paramedics reported smelling alcohol on her breath. It's unclear how she ended up outside the vehicle.
Ryburn says speed appears to be a factor in the crash.
The flames from the fire spread to nearby trees and brush and Barone says they were doused within moments of firefighter's arriving.
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Throughout central California, a water war is quietly being fought underground.
Farmers, residents and urban water districts have seen their wells go dry because the water table has fallen so low. Those who can afford it have been drilling deeper wells that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Experts say groundwater supplies have been strained by growing city populations and hundreds of square miles of new orchards and vineyards.
Exacerbating the problem is a second consecutive dry year, as well as cutbacks of surface water shipped to farms and cities from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Climate change is putting additional pressure on aquifers.
Experts worry groundwater is becoming unaffordable — and that overuse could cause serious land subsidence, damaging infrastructure such as roads.