APRIL 2021 - Capitol Corner


LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE DUELING BILLS ON CANNABIS BILLBOARDS


When it comes to advertising, cannabis companies are at a unique disadvantage. They can’t advertise on TV. Major digital and print platforms mostly shun the industry. That has made billboard advertising a very important piece of industry marketing. And now that strategy is in jeopardy.

The state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) updated regulations governing billboard advertisements this year after a judge ruled they violate the law on highways that cross state borders. The judge’s decision was based on the language of Prop 64. That put the issue in the lap of state lawmakers who are working now to clarify the rules on outdoor marijuana advertising.


That has set up a contest between Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) and Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward). They’ve introduced dueling bills – AB 273 (Irwin) and AB 1302 (Quirk) – that would governing billboard advertising.


Quirk’s bill would ban cannabis ads within 15 miles of a border on highways exiting the state. Irwin’s bill would go much further, banning any marijuana-related ad that’s visible from a California highway.


Irwin believes a more conservative approach is necessary, especially since cannabis is such a new industry. Children are still a major concern when it comes to visible advertisements. Quirk, however, is worried about the impact on an industry that’s already struggling to contend with a persistent black market.


“The legal industry is in trouble because they have to compete with this low-overhead illegal market,” Quirk said, as quoted by POLITICO. “That's the problem and there's no guarantee that the legal market survives, frankly, at this point unless they can out-compete the illegal market.”


As for minors, “this is not enticing children, it's just giving a chance for the legal industry to outperform the illegal industry, which has lower prices and convenient delivery to middle schoolers,” he said. “We’re much better off with the legal industry and if you want to hobble the industry some more that's not fine with me.”


Source: CA Marijuana Policy Update


REGULATORS PROPOSE NEW WARNINGS FOR CANNABIS PRODUCTS


California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has proposed new rules on warning labels for cannabis products sold in California. The proposed change would have cancer warnings combined with warnings about developmental toxicity during pregnancy.


The exact language would be dependent on the type of product. For edibles, the warning label would specifically state that consumption of the product during pregnancy exposes the child to delta-9-THC which can affect behavior and learning abilities.

OEHHA is accepting comments on the proposed regulations through May 18, 2021. Public hearings will follow.


SPOTLIGHT BILL OF THE MONTH – SB 311


Terminally ill patients in some hospitals and health care facilities will be able to use non-smokable forms of cannabis under a bill making its way through the California Legislature.


Senate Bill 311, the Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act (Ryan’s Law), was introduced by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and 11 co-authors: Senators Steven Bradford, Anna Caballero, Brian Jones, Melissa Melendez, Scott Wiener, and Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Wendy Carrillo, Cristina Garcia, Lorena Gonzalez, Jim Wood, and Phil Ting. It was named after Ryan Bartell, who passed away in 2018 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. His father, Jim, was a sponsor of SB 311.


Under the bill, hospitals can reasonably restrict patient storage and use of medical cannabis. The law does not apply to state hospitals or patients receiving emergency care.


THE CHP HAS RELEASED A LONG-AWAITED REPORT ON IMPAIRED DRIVING. HERE’S WHAT IT FOUND ABOUT THE INFLUENCE OF CANNABIS.


The California Highway Patrol’s Impaired Driving Task Force released its long-waited report on driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, earlier this year. The report is a culmination of nine separate meetings held between October 2017 and July 31, 2020.


The task force examined the impacts of drugged driving and worked to develop recommendations for best practices, protocols, and policy in accordance with Senate Bill 94. The California chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was brought on as a member of the team to share its insights and concerns. That was important because legalization of cannabis in 2016, coupled with the absence of a reliable indicator for impairment in ‘stoned drivers,' has raised serious questions about the impact of marijuana use and traffic safety.


“Cal NORML made sure the task force was informed of scientific evidence showing that driving impairment from cannabis cannot be determined through chemical drug tests like the alcohol breathalyzer,” Cal NORML Deputy Director Ellen Komp said.


The CHP’s study found that the impact of THC on driving performance was “moderate,” albeit with some wide variations. To make that determination, the task force used a driving simulator study featuring blood and saliva tests for THC in conjunction with a tablet-base performance test.


The task force made a series of recommendations, including but not limited to:

  • Improving data collection and testing protocols, in part through tracking and analyzing all DUI and DUID arrest and toxicology outcomes

  • A 4% increase in Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) over the next five years

  • Expanded training on impaired driving for Criminal Justice Officers

  • Additional funding for state and local government laboratories that conduct forensic toxicology testing to purchase better equipment

  • Mandating that cannabis retailers, lounges, and event organizers post warnings about the the risk of impaired driving

Read the full report here

Source: CA Marijuana Policy Update

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