February 21st was the legislative bill introduction deadline for the last year of the two-year session. Since the Legislature reconvened in early-January, 2297 bills have been introduced, of which 18 are directly related to cannabis. We are continuing to review all of the recently-introduced cannabis-related legislation and will bring back to the Legislative Committee for possible action. Below are a few of the recently introduced bills: AB 2456 (Ting) would direct the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control to create a model ordinance to help cities and counties establish well-regulated cannabis retailers in their jurisdictions. The bill is an effort to increase the density of cannabis retailers in the state, which is well behind other states that have legalized marijuana and similar products. According to Ting’s office, California has one retailer for every 35,000 adults 21 years old and older while Oregon has one retailer for every 5,500 and Colorado has one retailer for every 4,200. AB 2094 (Jones-Sawyer), which would authorize a licensing authority under MAUCRSA to impose an administrative fine of up to $50,000 per violation against a person who violates the prohibition on renting, leasing, or making available a building, room, space, or enclosure for the purpose of unlawfully manufacturing, distributing, or selling cannabis. The bill would make each day the violation continues a separate violation for this purpose.
AB 2122 (B. Rubio), which would impose a civil penalty on persons aiding and abetting unlicensed commercial cannabis activity of up to $30,000 for each violation. The bill would prohibit an action for civil penalties brought against a person pursuant to MAUCRSA from commencing unless the action is filed within 3 years from the first date of discovery of the violation by a licensing authority or a participating agency, whichever is earlier or earliest. Legislative Joint Hearing - Additionally, last week there was a Joint Informational of Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration, and Business and Professions Subject — Cannabis: Consolidation of Regulation and Identifying the Elements of the Illicit Market. According to Dept. of Finance, trailer bill language will be released next week and there is no clear time-frame for the consolidation to be complete. Some observations from the hearing:
According to Ajax there is an additional $15 million for local equity grants and they are now accepting applications, where they have contracted with Go-Biz to administrate.
Legislators on the committee shared frustrations at the Administration (DOF) for operating and proposing rules “in a vacuum” and not involving them or key staff in strategizing on concepts and drafting language
CSAC and the League of CA Cities took a firm position that data sharing between the state and the locals is their priority, and the state has been “lagging” in this area. Due to the bifurcation of the licensing/permitting process – there is a huge lack of clarity that inevitably leads to the growing illicit market problem.
Tax reform and simplification – This was a broad plea from many of the non-agency panelists.
A need for centralized enforcement – The Chair was unhappy that the Bureau has to rely on local law enforcement and does not have any law enforcement on staff other than advisors.
Possible Cannabis Initiative – As previously mentioned, there is increasing support about putting up an initiative on the November ballot, that would require cities, where a majority of voters supported Prop 64 to allow cannabis dispensaries. This was the recent recommendation by the Cannabis Advisory Committee in response to the increased proliferation of illicit market due to high taxes, over-regulation and local bans. This recommendation mirrors last year’s bill that MCCIA supported, AB 1356 (Ting). We will continue to monitor this issue closely.