In an ongoing effort to address California’s obstacle-heavy cannabis landscape, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Sept. 18 that he signed 10 bills to help expand the legal market and address the ever-lasting impacts of prohibition.
Also, the governor directed state officials to expedite health and safety policy reforms, to prioritize university funding of research related to cannabis potency, and to redouble efforts on tackling barriers to access.
Despite state legalization and the subsequent Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) in California, local opposition, rigid bureaucracy and federal prohibition remain as the highest hurdles preventing further progress in the licensed industry, according to the governor’s office.
“For too many Californians, the promise of cannabis legalization remains out of reach,” Newsom said in a press release Sunday. “These [signed] measures build on the important strides our state has made toward this goal, but much work remains to build an equitable, safe and sustainable legal cannabis industry. I look forward to partnering with the Legislature and policymakers to fully realize cannabis legalization in communities across California.”
Following are abbreviated breakdowns for each of the 10 bills Newsom signed on Sept. 18:
SB 1186, by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco (Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Right of Access Act): On Jan. 1, 2024, this bill will prohibit a local jurisdiction from adopting or enforcing any regulation that prohibits the retail sale by delivery within the local jurisdiction of medicinal cannabis to medicinal cannabis patients or their primary caregivers by medicinal cannabis businesses.
SB 1326, by Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced (Cannabis: interstate agreements): This bill authorizes the governor to enter into an agreement with another state or states authorizing medicinal or adult-use commercial cannabis activity, or both, between foreign licensees, who are licensed under the laws of the other state or states, and entities operating with a state license pursuant to MAUCRSA, provided that the commercial cannabis activities are lawful and subject to licensure under the laws of the other state or states.
AB 1706, by Rep. Mia Bonta, D-Oakland (Cannabis crimes: resentencing): This bill will, if a sentence was not challenged by July 1, 2020, require the court to issue an order recalling or dismissing the sentence, dismissing and sealing, or redesignating the conviction no later than March 1, 2023, and will require the court to update its records accordingly and to notify the Department of Justice.
AB 1646, by Rep. Phillip Chen, R-Yorba Linda (Cannabis packaging: beverages): This bill authorizes cannabis beverages to be packaged in containers of any material (as opposed to only glass) that are clear or any color.
AB 1885, by Rep. Ash Kalra, D-San Jose (Cannabis and cannabis products: animals: veterinary medicine): This bill expands MAUCRSA to include the control and regulation of the cultivation, distribution, transport, storage, manufacturing, processing and sale of cannabis products intended for use on, or consumption by, animals, excluding livestock and food animals from the definition of “animal,” and specifies that cannabis concentrate and edible products are not considered processed pet foods as defined under the Pure Pet Food Act of 1969.
AB 1894, by Rep. Luz Rivas, D-Arleta (Integrated cannabis vaporizer: packaging, labeling, advertisement, and marketing): This bill will, commencing July 1, 2024, require the advertisement and marketing of a cannabis cartridge and an integrated cannabis vaporizer to prominently display a specified message to properly dispose of a cannabis cartridge and an integrated cannabis vaporizer as hazardous waste, and would also prohibit the package, label, advertisement and marketing from indicating that the cannabis cartridge or integrated cannabis vaporizer is disposable or implying that it may be thrown in the trash or recycling streams.
AB 2210, by Rep. Bill Quirk, D-Hayward (Cannabis: state temporary event licenses: venues licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control: unsold inventory): This bill prohibits the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) from denying an application for a state temporary event license solely on the basis that there is a license issued pursuant to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act for the proposed premises of the event.
AB 2188, by Rep. Bill Quirk, D-Hayward (Discrimination in employment: use of cannabis): This bill, on and after Jan. 1, 2024, will make it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize a person, if the discrimination is based upon the person’s use of cannabis off the job and away from the workplace, except for preemployment drug screening or upon an employer-required drug screening test that has found the person to have non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.
AB 2568, by Rep. Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova (Cannabis: insurance providers): This bill provides it is not a crime solely for individuals and firms to provide insurance and related services to persons licensed to engage in commercial cannabis activity.
AB 2925, by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove (California Cannabis Tax Fund: spending reports): This bill requires the State Department of Health Care Services, on or before July 10, 2023, to provide to the Legislature a spending report of funds from the Youth Education, Prevention, Early Intervention and Treatment Account for the 2021–22 and 2022–23 fiscal years. The bill requires the department, on or before July 10, 2024, and annually thereafter, to provide that spending report for the prior fiscal year.
In addition to signing those 10 bills, Newsom directed the California Department of Public Health to “convene subject matter experts to survey current scientific research and policy mechanisms to address the growing emergence of high-potency cannabis and hemp products.”
The governor also directed DCC regulators to “further the scientific understanding of potency and its related health impacts by prioritizing the funding of research related to cannabis potency through its existing public university grants.”