California has long been at the forefront of drug policy reform in the United States, and now a flurry of bills have been sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for approval before the looming October deadline. These potential reforms cover a wide range of topics including psychedelics, marijuana, and general reform measures.
If signed into law by Gov. Newsom, these bills could have a significant impact on the drug policy landscape in California and potentially serve as a model for other states to follow. Let’s take a closer look at what these proposed bills are all about and why they are important in the ongoing efforts towards drug policy reform.
Assembly Bill Summaries Per Bill Text
- AB 374: “This bill would authorize a local jurisdiction, if specified conditions are met, to allow for the preparation or sale of noncannabis food or beverage products, as specified, by a licensed retailer or microbusiness in the area where the consumption of cannabis is allowed, to allow for the sale of prepackaged, noncannabis-infused, nonalcoholic food and beverages by a licensed retailer, and to allow, and to sell tickets for, live musical or other performances on the premises of a licensed retailer or microbusiness in the area where the consumption of cannabis is allowed. The bill would additionally specify that these provisions do not authorize a licensed retailer or microbusiness to prepare or sell industrial hemp or products containing industrial hemp.”
- AB 623: “This bill would require the Department of Cannabis Control to establish regulations to adjust testing variances for edible cannabis products that include less than 5 milligrams of THC in total.” Existing law, for edible cannabis products, requires the certificate of analysis to report that the milligrams of THC per serving does not exceed 10 milligrams per serving, plus or minus 10%.
- AB 993: “This bill would expand the task force on regulation of commercial cannabis activity to include representatives from the Civil Rights Department and the Department of Industrial Relations.”
- AB 1021: “This bill, if one of specified changes in federal law regarding controlled substances occurs, would deem a physician, pharmacist, or other authorized healing arts licensee who prescribes, furnishes, or dispenses a product composed of one of these substances, in accordance with federal law, to be in compliance with state law governing those acts. The bill would also provide that upon the effective date of one of those changes in federal law regarding these substances, the prescription, furnishing, dispensing, transfer, transportation, possession, or use of that product in accordance with federal law is for a legitimate medical purpose and is authorized pursuant to state law.”
- AB 1126: “This bill would make the possession of the universal symbol in connection with a commercial activity a violation, as described, and would make each individual package, label, advertisement, or other object bearing the universal symbol a separate violation. The bill would require a person using or possessing the universal symbol in connection with a commercial activity to maintain and produce records that the use or possession is in connection with licensed commercial activity. The bill would make a package, label, advertisement, or other document or object of any kind bearing the universal symbol contraband and require it to be seized and summarily forfeited. The bill would authorize the person from whom a package, label, advertisement, or other document or object is seized to petition for return of the object, as specified. The bill would make an exception for the educational, informational, or other noncommercial use or possession of the universal symbol. The bill would expand the places and items authorized for certain employees of the CDTFA or a peace officer to inspect and seize to include any place where any package, label, advertisement, or other document or object of any kind bearing the universal symbol are sold or stored. By expanding the locations authorized for entry and inspection, the bill expands the scope of a crime and imposes a state-mandated local program.”
- AB 1171: “This bill would authorize a licensee under MAUCRSA ( Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act) to bring an action in superior court against a person engaging in commercial cannabis activity without a license as required by MAUCRSA. The bill would require the licensee to demonstrate actual harm resulting from the unlicensed commercial cannabis activity. The bill would authorize a court in that action to enter an order enjoining the defendant from engaging in commercial cannabis activity without a license. The bill would entitle a licensee prevailing in that action to their reasonable attorney’s fees and costs and either actual damages or statutory damages not to exceed $75,000, as specified. The bill would provide that its provisions do not apply to a violation of the Labor Code and would prohibit the provisions from forming the basis for a cause of action under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004.”
- AB 1207: “This bill would implement provisions of AUMA (Adult Use of Marijuana Act) by prohibiting the sale, distribution, or manufacture of cannabis, cannabis products, packaging, or labeling that are attractive to children, as defined. The bill would require the adoption of emergency regulations to implement these provisions.”
- AB 1448: “This bill would recast those provisions to require, in an action brought by a county counsel, city attorney, or city prosecutor, the penalty first be used to reimburse the prosecuting agency for specified costs in bringing the action, with 50% of the remainder, if any, paid to the county or city, as applicable, and the other 50% to be deposited into the General Fund.”
- AB 1684: “This bill would expand the authorization for an ordinance providing for the immediate imposition of administrative fines or penalties to include all unlicensed commercial cannabis activity, including cultivation, manufacturing, processing, distribution, or retail sale of cannabis, and would authorize the ordinance to declare unlicensed commercial cannabis activity a public nuisance. The bill would prohibit the ordinance from imposing an administrative fine or penalty exceeding $1,000 per violation or $10,000 per day. The bill would authorize the ordinance to impose the administrative fine or penalty on the property owner and each owner of the occupant business entity engaging in unlicensed commercial cannabis activity and to hold them jointly and severally liable. The bill would authorize a local agency that adopts an ordinance authorized by this provision to refer a case involving unlicensed commercial cannabis activity to the Attorney General.”
Senate Bill Summaries Per Bill Text
- SB 51: Allows social equity applicants to apply for and renew provisional retailer licenses through January 2031. “This bill, until January 1, 2031, would additionally authorize the department, in its sole discretion, to issue a provisional license for a local equity applicant for retailer activities if the applicant meets specified requirements. The bill would authorize the department, in its sole discretion, to renew a provisional license for a local equity applicant for retailer activities until it issues or denies the provisional licensee’s annual license, subject to specified requirements, or until 5 years from the date the provisional license was originally issued, whichever is earlier. By extending provisional licensure, the applications for which are required to be signed under penalty of perjury, the bill would expand the scope of the crime of perjury, and would thereby impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would require the department to report to the appropriate committees of the Legislature on, among other things, the number of provisional licenses that have been granted under the bill’s provisions.”
- SB 58: “This bill would, on and after January 1, 2025, make lawful the possession, preparation, obtaining, or transportation of, specified quantities of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and mescaline, for personal use, as defined, by and with persons 21 years of age or older. The bill would provide penalties for possession of these substances on school grounds, or possession by, or transferring to, persons under 21 years of age.”
“The bill would require the California Health and Human Services Agency to convene a workgroup to study and make recommendations on the establishment of a framework governing the therapeutic use, including facilitated or supported use, of those substances. The bill would require that workgroup to send a report to the Legislature containing those recommendations on or before January 1, 2025.”
- SB 302: “Existing law, the Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act or Ryan’s Law, requires specified types of health care facilities to allow a terminally ill patient’s use of medicinal cannabis within the health care facility, as defined, subject to certain restrictions. Existing law requires that health care facilities permitting patient use of medicinal cannabis comply with other drug and medication requirements, as specified, and makes those facilities subject to enforcement actions by the State Department of Public Health. Existing law authorizes a health care facility to suspend compliance with these provisions if a regulatory agency, the United States Department of Justice, or the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services takes specified actions, including initiating an enforcement action against a health care facility related to the facility’s compliance with a state-regulated medical marijuana program.”
“This bill would expand those provisions to a patient who is over 65 years of age with a chronic disease. The bill would expand the definition of health care facility to also include a home health agency, as defined. The bill would additionally require a health care facility permitting patient use of medicinal cannabis, as specified, to ensure a denial of admission to the health care facility is not because of the patient’s use of medicinal cannabis. The bill would also authorize a health care facility to suspend compliance with these provisions if a regulatory agency, the United States Department of Justice, or the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services makes an inquiry about the health care facility’s activities.”
- SB 540: “Existing law requires cannabis and cannabis product labels and inserts to include specified warnings about the safety of cannabis use.”
“This bill would, on or before July 1, 2025, require the department to reevaluate regulations for the above-described warnings to determine whether any additional warnings are necessary to reflect evolving science, and would require the department to adopt regulations for cannabis and cannabis product labels or inserts reflecting the evolving science regarding the risks that cannabis use may cause consumers. The bill would, on or before January 1, 2030, and every 5 years thereafter, require the department to reevaluate the adopted regulations to determine whether the requirements reflect the state of the evolving science on cannabis health effects and on effective communication of health warnings. The bill would authorize cannabis or cannabis products manufactured before January 1, 2030, and every proceeding year new labeling requirements are imposed to be sold for up to 12 months or for a shorter period of time as prescribed by the department.”
“The bill would, on or before January 1, 2025, require the department, in consultation with the State Department of Public Health, to create and post for public use a single-page flat or folded brochure that includes prescribed information, including, among other things, implications and risks associated with cannabis use, as specified. The bill would, on and after March 1, 2025, require a retailer or microbusiness selling, or person delivering, cannabis or cannabis products to a consumer to prominently display the brochure, including printed copies, at the point of sale of final delivery in person or online, and offer each new consumer a copy of the brochure at the time of first purchase or delivery. The bill would, on or before January 1, 2030, and every 5 years thereafter, require the department to either recertify the information in the brochure or provide updated language, as specified.”
- SB 622: “Existing law requires the Department of Cannabis Control to implement a unique identification program for cannabis and cannabis products and requires the program to include the identification of permitted cannabis plants at a cultivation site during the cultivation period.”
“Existing law requires a unique identifier to be issued for each cannabis plant and to be attached at the base of each plant or as otherwise required by law or regulation. This bill would instead require the unique identifier to be recorded in a manner as determined by the department by regulation.”
- SB 700: “This bill would make it unlawful for an employer to request information from an applicant for employment relating to the applicant’s prior use of cannabis, as specified. Under the bill, information about a person’s prior cannabis use obtained from the person’s criminal history would be exempt from the above-described existing law and bill provisions relating to prior cannabis use if the employer is permitted to consider or inquire about that information under a specified provision of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act or other state or federal law.”
- SB 753: “This bill would amend AUMA by adding to the above-described conditions planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying, or processing marijuana that results in substantial environmental harm to surface or groundwater. By expanding the scope of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.”
“The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.”
“This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.”
- SB 833: “Under existing law, the Department of Cannabis Control may issue cannabis cultivation licenses to commercial cannabis businesses that differ depending on the size of the cultivation site and whether the site is indoor, outdoor, or mixed-light. Existing law requires the department to charge each licensee a licensure and renewal fee, as applicable. This bill would require the department, beginning no later than March 1, 2024, to allow a cultivation licensee to change the type of size of a cultivation license or to place a cultivation license in inactive status.”
“The bill would authorize a licensee, at the license renewal, to change an existing cultivation license to a type with a smaller maximum canopy size, and at each subsequent license renewal, to restore the original type, maintain the type that the license was changed to at the license renewal, or change to a different type with a maximum canopy size smaller than the original type. The bill would prohibit a licensee who holds a license in inactive status from engaging in the cultivation of cannabis, except as specified, would require a license in inactive status to remain in inactive status until the license is next renewed, and would require a licensee who holds a license in inactive status to pay a reduced license fee. The bill would require the department, in implementing these provisions, to allow each licensee a one-time opportunity to change the date of license renewal.”
As Governor Gavin Newsom’s October deadline approaches, the fate of several cannabis reform bills currently sitting on his desk hangs in the balance. These bills, if signed into law, have the potential to greatly impact California’s drug policy and the cannabis industry.
While some of the bills are seen as progress towards a more equitable and responsible cannabis industry, others have raised concerns among advocates and industry members. It’s now up to Governor Newsom.