California has been a pioneer in America’s cannabis industry. Among the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, California now generates billions of dollars in marijuana sales and is home to one of the largest cannabis industries in the world. As the end of the legislative season approaches, a slew of cannabis legislations have passed through the legislature.
Lawmakers have managed to pass several major cannabis bills, including ones that would enable interstate commerce, make the sealing of marijuana convictions more streamlined, and provide protections for insurance companies that serve the cannabis industry past; these bills are headed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. There are still several other cannabis bills that haven’t made it that far, such as a bill that would provide job protections for people who consume cannabis on personal time and one that would bar local governments from prohibiting medical marijuana deliveries.
Two major cannabis bills that reached Newsom’s desk are SB 1326, introduced by Senator Anna Callabero, and AB 1706, introduced by Assemblymember Mia Bonta. If it is signed into law, SB 1326 would set up a framework for interstate cannabis commerce, allowing for trade between California’s cannabis industry and markets in other legal states. According to the bill, interstate marijuana commerce will be reliant on an official assurance that the trade does not put the state at risk of federal retaliation.
Coincidentally, New Jersey Senate president introduced legislation that would facilitate interstate cannabis commerce under similar conditions the same week that SB 1326 went through the Assembly Appropriations Committee. SB 1326 then advanced through the full chamber before the Senate approved it via a 298 to 9 vote.
AB 1706 is meant to bolster state law-mandated cannabis justice provisions by streamlining the record sealing process for prior cannabis convictions. The legislation would require courts to process cannabis conviction record sealing and other kinds of relief for eligible people with cannabis convictions within a set timeframe. More specifically, AB 1706 will give courts until March 1, 2023, to seal records for qualifying cannabis cases that had not been challenged by July 1, 2020.
After Senate amendments that changed record sealing reporting requirements from monthly to quarterly, AB 1706 advanced past the full chamber and then headed to the assembly where it was unanimously approved. Another bill — AB 2568 — was introduced by Assembly member Ken Cooley and would provide legal protections for companies that provide insurance-related services to businesses in the cannabis industry. All three bills, alongside bill AB 1954, which would protect patients who use medical cannabis, now await the governor’s signature.
Once these bills are signed into law and become operational, the regulatory environment in which companies such as Prime Harvest Inc. interact will be tad bit friendlier to the industry.
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