JUNE 2019 - Capitol Corner

Two Important Bills Stall in the Assembly

Facing strong opposition from California cities, Assemblymember Ting last Thursday shelved AB 1356, which would have required municipalities to lift bans on cannabis stores if their voters supported Proposition 64, which legalized the state’s cannabis market.

The San Francisco legislator could not muster the two-thirds vote of the Assembly needed to alter the requirements to prevent cities and counties from banning stores. He plans to try again with the bill next year, a representative said.

“It’s disappointing the Legislature will not act on AB 1356 this year, a bill I introduced to put an end to illicit cannabis businesses that are currently hurting our communities,” Ting said Thursday. “Despite legalization, people across California are still forced to obtain cannabis from the unregulated, underground market.”

The measure would have required one licensed cannabis store for every six restaurants and bars with liquor licenses, or one for every 15,000 residents, whichever provides fewer cannabis retailers.

The local bans have resulted in a large illicit market for cannabis that dwarfs the legal market, Ting and industry officials complained. The initiative was approved by 57% of state voters.

Ting said that city councils were thwarting the will of their voters as expressed when they approved the initiative. It received a majority vote of support in 392 cities and counties.

Regarding AB 286 - Assembly Appropriations Committee “held” Assemblymember Bonta’s AB 286, which suspends the cultivation tax and reduces the excise tax from 15% to 11% for a period of about three years.  The goal, as stated by the author, is to allow time for cannabis businesses and consumers to transition from the black market into the regulated market.  The elasticity of cannabis suggests that such a reduction could have a positive effect in encouraging more consumers to purchase from regulated dispensaries since the price difference between the illicit and regulated markets would be smaller as a result of this bill.

MCCIA has a formal support position on both of these bills.

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