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
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),
allow state-license cannabis testing labs to
provide services to law enforcement (SB 1244).
The bills will
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.”
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
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.”