California Governor Approves Changes To Marijuana Banking And Labeling Laws

Marijuana Dispensaries online.California Gov.

Gavin Newsom (D) sign a handful of marijuana bills

into law on Tuesday, making a series of small

adjustments to the nation’s largest legal cannabis

system. More sweeping

proposals such as

overhauling the state’s marijuana

regulatory structure

will have to wait until

next year, the governor say.

Among the biggest of the new changes are

revisions to banking and advertising laws.

With many legal marijuana

businesses are still unable to access financial

services, Newsom sign a bill (AB 1525) to

remove state penalties

against banks that work with cannabis clients.

“This bill has the potential to increase the provisions

of financial services to the legal cannabis industry,”

Newsom wrote in a signing statement, “and for that reason,

I support it.”

Democrats in Congress, meanwhile,

have been working for months to remove

obstacles to these businesses’ access to financial

services at the federal level. A coronavirus relief

bill released by House Democratic leaders on Monday

is the latest piece of legislation to include marijuana

banking protections. Past efforts to include such

provisions have been scuttled by Senate Republicans.

In his signing statement on the banking bill, Newsom

direct state cannabis regulators to establish rules

meant to protect the privacy of marijuana businesses

that seek financial services, urging that data be kept

confidential and is used only “for the provision of

financial services to support licensees.”

Another bill (SB 67) the governor sign on Tuesday

will finally establish a cannabis appellation program,

meant to indicate

where marijuana is grow and how that might

influence its character. The system is similar to

how wine regions are regulate.

Under the new law, growers and processors

under the new law will be forbidden from

using the name of a city or other designate

region in product marketing unless all of that

product’s cannabis is grown in that region.

Similar protections already apply at the county level.

For outdoor growers, the new law recognizes the

importance of terrior—the unique combination

of soil, sun and other environmental factors that

can influence the character of a cannabis plant.

For indoor growers, it provides a way to represent

a hometown or cash in on regional cachet.

Most of the other new changes that the governor

sign into law are relatively minor and will likely

go unnoticed by consumers. One, for example,

builds in more wiggle room on the amount of

THC in edibles (AB 1458),

while

another will

allow state-license cannabis testing labs to

provide services to law enforcement (SB 1244).

The bills will

approved by state lawmakers

earlier this month,

as the state’s legislative

session drew to a close.

Other pieces of cannabis legislation pass by the

legislature this session were met with the governor’s

veto. On Tuesday, Newsom reject a

proposal (AB 1470) that would have allow

processors to submit unpackaged products to

testing labs, which industry lobbyists say would

reduce costs. Currently products must be submit

in their final form, complete with retail packaging.

Newsom said the proposal “conflicts with current

regulations…that prevent contaminated and unsafe

products from entering the retail market.”

“While I support reducing packaging waste, allowing

products to be test not in their final form could

result in consumer harm and have a disproportionate

impact on small operators,” Newsom say in a veto statement.

Those changes to testing procedures should

instead be consider next year, Newsom say,

as part of a pending plan to streamline California’s

cannabis licensing and regulatory agencies.

“I have direct my administration to consolidate

the state regulatory agencies that currently

enforce cannabis health and safety standards

to pursue all appropriate measures to ease costs

and reduce unnecessary packaging,” he wrote.

“This proposal should be consider as part of that process.”

Newsom also last week veto a bill (AB 545)

that would have begun to dissolve the state Bureau

of Cannabis Control, which oversees the legal

industry. In a statement, the governor called that

legislation “premature” given his plans for broader reform.

“My Administration has propose consolidating

the regulatory authority currently divided between

three state entities into one single department,”

Newsom wrote, “which we hope to achieve next

year in partnership with the Legislature.”

Earlier this month, the governor sign into law

one of the industry’s top priorities for the year—a

measure (AB 1872) that freezes state cannabis

cultivation and excise taxes for the entirety of 2021.

The law is intend to provide financial stability for

cannabis businesses in California, where taxes on

marijuana are among the highest in the nation.

The state’s leading marijuana trade group, the California

Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA), applaud

the governor’s moves. All the bills approve by

Newsom this week had the industry group’s support.

“We thank Governor Newsom for prioritizing these

bills, which seek to reduce regulatory burdens,

improve enforcement, expand financial services

and enhance the state’s cannabis appellation’s

program,” CCIA Executive Director Lindsay

Robinson said in a message to supporters on

Wednesday.

industry has faced a series of unexpect

challenges and setbacks in 2020. We look

forward to continuing to work with the Newsom

Administration, and the Legislature, as we pursue a

robust policy agenda in 2021.”

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