After the most ambitious year for cannabis reforms in California since adult use was made legal in 2016, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s message to lawmakers is: there’s more to be done.
Newsom signed 10 cannabis bills into law on Sunday, bringing the total number of cannabis bills signed since the session ended in August to 13. And these are not incremental bills. SB 1326 – which, notably, Newsom named first in his signing announcement – puts California on a path toward interstate cannabis commerce, for example.
All of this, too, rests on top of reforms in the budget and those proposed by state cannabis regulators this year. This summer, Newsom eliminated the state’s cannabis cultivation tax, providing a break to legal growers in the state who are up against a persistent unlicensed market. And regulators are in the midst of bringing uniformity to the industry, including, for example, with regard to lab testing requirements.
In short, more than five years into the transformation ushered in by legal adult use, and more than 25 years since medical cannabis became legal, the state’s cannabis industry is still growing up.
Many of the challenges that consumers and the industry face come down to “local opposition, rigid bureaucracy and federal prohibition,” Newsom’s office wrote in his Sunday announcement.
“For too many Californians, the promise of cannabis legalization remains out of reach,” he said in a statement. “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.”
The ten bills signed into law on Sunday are:
• SB 1326 will “authorize the Governor to enter into an agreement with another state or states authorizing medicinal or adult-use commercial cannabis activity, or both, between entities licensed under the laws of the other state or states and entities operating with a state license pursuant to [the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act], provided that the commercial cannabis activities are lawful and subject to licensure under the laws of the other state or states.”
• AB 2188 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.” This does not “apply to employees in the building and construction trades” or “preempt state or federal laws requiring employees to be tested for controlled substances.”
• AB 1885 prevents a “veterinarian who recommends the use of cannabis on an animal for potential therapeutic effect or health supplementation purposes” from being disciplined. It requires regulations for “products intended for animals,” and the definition of “animal” does not include “livestock.”
• AB 1706 requires, for any cannabis sentence that did not see its eligibility challenged by July 1 2020, “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 would require the court to update its records accordingly and to notify the Department of Justice. The bill would require the Department of Justice, on or before July 1, 2023, to complete the update of the state summary criminal history information database, and ensure that inaccurate state summary criminal history is not reported, as specified.”
• AB 1894 requires certain cannabis vape packages, labels, and ads to “prominently display a specified message to properly dispose of an integrated cannabis vaporizer as hazardous waste.”
• AB 2568 makes it so that 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.”
• SB 1186 prevents localities from prohibiting medical cannabis deliveries within their borders.
• AB 1646 allows “cannabis beverages to be packaged in containers of any material that are clear or any color.” Currently, cannabis drinks can be “packaged in glass containers that are clear or any color.”
• AB 2925 requires the state Department of Health Care Services to provide the legislature with “a spending report of funds from the Youth Education, Prevention, Early Intervention and Treatment Account,” which is supported by cannabis tax revenue, each year.
• AB 2210 creates a “temporary event license” that allows cannabis to be sold at a venue with an alcohol license, so long as alcohol is not sold or consumed during the event.
The three bills that Newsom signed before Sunday (the session ended on August 31):
• AB 2595 makes it so that “when a social worker is investigating an alleged case of child abuse or neglect, a parent’s or guardian’s use or possession of cannabis is treated in the same manner as a parent’s or guardian’s use or possession of alcohol and legally prescribed medication.”
• AB 1954 prevents doctors from “automatically denying treatment or medication” to patients who consume cannabis “without first completing a case-by-case evaluation of the patient that includes a determination that the qualified patient’s use of medical cannabis is medically significant, as defined, to the treatment or medication.”
• SB 988 tweaks a bill signed into law last year, called Ryan’s Law, that “requires specified types of health care facilities to allow a terminally ill patient’s use of medicinal cannabis within the health care facility, subject to certain restrictions.”