Last week, the California State Legislature made final decisions regarding several key cannabis bills, many of which are now on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk, waiting to be signed into law. Together, they could have a significant impact on the world’s largest cannabis market.
The governor has until October 13 to approve or veto the bills endorsed by the legislature. Should the Governor fail to act on the bills, they will become law by default.
Still, it should be noted that these six were not all the cannabis-related bills under consideration, and that some of them with the greatest potential to shape the cannabis industry were either postponed until 2020 or ended up on the cutting floor. This includes Senate Bill 51, which sought to establish limited charter banks and credit unions for cannabis-related businesses.
But what California’s legislature did pass is significant. Here are the bills that made last week’s legislative deadline. These measures are either on the governor’s desk or being proofread in preparation for that final step:
- Assembly Bill 37 As Cannabis Wire previously reported, this bill would allow cannabis businesses to deduct ordinary expenses, such as rent, utilities, and employee health insurance premiums.
- Assembly Bill 858 This bill would add a limit of 2,500 square feet of canopy for an outdoor grow to the California Department of Food and Agriculture Type1C cannabis cultivation license.
- Assembly Bill 1291 This bill requires those applying for a license to partake in the state’s cannabis industry to provide a statement indicating that they will enter into labor peace agreements within sixty days of employing twenty employees. Currently, applicants are required to submit a statement indicating that they will or have already done so, but the law does not establish specific timelines.
- Assembly Bill 1085 This bill encourages the state’s after-school programs to educate students about substance use. To do so, the bill would require the Department of Health Care Services to enter into agreements with the California Department of Education to administer such programs, with funding from licensed cannabis sales.
- Senate Bill 305 This bill would require healthcare centers to allow patients in palliative care to use medical cannabis, as long as they provide a doctor’s recommendation. Smoking or vaping cannabis in medical facilities would remain prohibited.
- Senate Bill 595 This bill would require the state’s cannabis licensing authorities to provide application and licensing fee deferrals or waivers to local social equity applicants and licensees.
One measure that did not make last week’s legislative deadline, however, was Senate Bill 581, which sought to require cannabis licensing agencies to post on their websites specific information about applicants and licensees—including labor law violations, enforcement actions, and convictions. The bill, which was sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council and opposed by the California Cannabis Industry Association, was ordered to the Assembly’s inactive file last Thursday.
Those who supported the measure argued that members of the public should not be required to file California Public Records Act requests to obtain information. They also held that consumers should be able to check licensees’ records and that workers should be able to look into prospective employers.
According to her communications director, Delphert Smith, Senator Anna Caballero, who authored the bill, does not plan to reintroduce the measure when the legislature reconvenes in January.
As for the likelihood of the remaining bills being signed into law, Jesse Melgar, a spokesperson for Governor Newsom, told Cannabis Wire that they “will be evaluated on their merits before any action is taken.”