As of February 22nd, the final bills for California’s legislative session have been introduced to the state’s decision makers in Sacramento. There are a total of 44 bills that are directly related to cannabis laws and are likely to affect the current laws and policies in place in California. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in California is currently in the process of meeting and lobbying with attorneys and others on positions and priorities regarding these bills, so we can expect to see a comprehensive list of all the bills and their effect on the marijuana laws in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here’s a short list describing these bills in minor detail and links so you can check out the bills yourself.
In order to understand the changes that we’re about to make, we should check out how marijuana legislation currently stands in California.
Going into the election, the possession and use of cannabis for recreational purposes was illegal in California. When Prop 215 passed in 1996, the state legalized medical marijuana, The Department of Justice while President Obama was in charge didn’t prosecute the people and the businesses who were following California’s local and state medical marijuana laws even though both recreational and medical cannabis was illegal under federal law. Prop 64 made recreational marijuana legal under California state law in 2016.
Proposition 64 was passed November 8th, 2016 by a 57% majority vote and allowed adults aged 21 or older to buy, possess, and use recreational marijuana. This measure was the cause of two new forms of taxes for the industry. One levied on cultivation and the other one on retail prices. The money from these taxes will be spent on researching cannabis, cannabis law enforcement, health and safety grants, youth programs, preventing environmental damage from commercialized cannabis, and treatment research. Most of the bills below will be directly amending proposition 64, and others will be affecting the future of cannabis.
Cannabis Licensing and Regulatory Bills
AB 1244 (Voepel) addresses the manufacture of cannabis concentrates using butane extraction methods.
5 bills will amend the current laws in place regarding how edibles are labeled and packaged. AB 76 and AB 175 will affect how edibles are packaged in the recreational market. AB 350 hopes to change how appealing edibles look to children. AB 1606 wants to amend the packaging for all edible products,and SB 663 will make edibles harder to access by kids.
12 bills will affect the laws surrounding licensing and regulation. AB 64 wants to merge AUMA and MCRSA (recreational and medical cannabis, allowing them to serve both). AB 171 would make it so regulators have to report the number of conditional licenses issued to the state. AB 238 makes it illegal to turn down someone in the workforce who isn’t part of a union and also makes it so entrepreneurs getting a license can’t be denied their license because they aren’t part of a union. AB 389 would require the bureau t o put a cannabis consumer guide on the state website. AB 420 would require ads for selling marijuana to include the license number of the licensee responsible for the ad. AB 729 requires licensees to post a “no persons under 21 allowed” sign on their properties, as well as prohibiting vending machine sales and preventing dispensaries from occupying spaces within a 600 foot radius of a school, playground, hospital, or church. AB 948 is a spot bill. AB 1143 prevents people from advertising weed outside. AB 1527 prevents employees leaving the bureau from joining the cannabis industry for 1 year. AB 1627 moves testing laboratories back to DCA. SB 175 protects the county of origin in regards to labeling requirements. SB 311 allows onsite testing of cannabis if an establishment is licensed.
6 bills address taxation and allocates tax revenues from Prop 64. AB 844 would allow tax funds to be spent on system navigation services. AB 963 would fine or imprison people for violating provisions relating to the cultivation and excise taxes on marijuana. AB 1002 would rename the program the center for cannabis research and allow the study of naturally occurring constituents of cannabis, and allow the facility to cultivate cannabis for research purposes. AB 1135 would require the health department and the education department to determine a disbursement formula for the tax funds. AB 1410 would create a tax for cultivators at the distribution level. SB 148 would allow for cash payments from cannabis businesses.
5 bills are related to water rights. AB 313 changes the wording of section 1525 of the Water Code. AB 362 limits the money that can be loaned to the Fish and Wildlife department for fixing the damage to forest lands from cannabis cultivation. AB 1254 changes the fish and wildlife code. AB 1420 allows the use of small irrigation systems and the ability to alter lakes and streams. SB 506 would allow lakes or streams to be altered by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
AB 1096 would state the intent of the legislature to address the regulation of cannabis grown on, but transported out of, tribal lands.
Six bills relate directly to driving under the influence of cannabis. AB 6 would permit the use of oral swab tests for drivers arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. SB 65 increases the penalty from driving high to a misdemeanor. SB 698 would establish a DUID standard of 5 ng if the driver also has a BAC anywhere in between .04 and .07%. AB 702 changes the language on consent for chemical tests by drivers. SB 67 would make it so the determination of whether or not an offense constitutes another separate violation or prior conviction for a DUI. AB 903 would change Prop 64 in order to adopt protocols that will aid law enforcement in determining whether or not a driver is driving high to include the use of cannabis, which will require a majority vote of 2:3.
Two bills will change the court proceedings for cannabis related offences. AB 1443 will change the government code 68152 section 15 (c) relating to court proceedings. AB 208 would make a pretrial diversion program the deferred entry.
AB 1578 wants to prohibit the state or local agencies from using their resources to assist the feds to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest any person for marijuana activity that is allowed in the state of California, including cultivation, commercial and noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis.
One bill (AB 285) will allow the basic human right of allowing prescription drugs in residences that are drug and alcohol-free.
That brings us to a grand total of 44 bills that will be decided upon throughout 2017, so be sure to check back often for more details.