As the current legislative session drew to an end, it seemed unlikely that lawmakers would be able to pass some kind of cannabis legislation before time ran out. But legislators in California persevered and managed to deliver a slew of cannabis bills to Governor Gavin Newsom just in time. The basket of 10 bills will provide employment protections for cannabis users, facilitate interstate cannabis trade and require the sealing of prior cannabis-related convictions, among others.
Californian lawmakers advanced the bills to the governor’s desk in mid-August after both Assembly Appropriations Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee met to discuss the fate of a variety of drug reform measures. Most of them had just been cleared in the opposing chamber and received amendments along the way, meaning they would have to head back to their bodies of origin before being sent to Gov. Newsom.
The governor signed most of the bills into law, stating that the drug reforms were critical to fulfilling the promises of cannabis legalization in the state of California and addressing the systemic harms caused by the war on drugs. Speaking at a press conference, he said that the promise of cannabis legalization has remained out of the reach of many Californians. He urged policymakers and regulators to redouble their efforts to identify and eliminate the barriers to effective cannabis legalization.
Newsom explained that the passage of the new cannabis measures was a major step toward achieving the state’s goal of cannabis legalization. However, he acknowledged that California still had a long way to go before its cannabis industry was equitable, safe and sustainable. Newsom concluded by saying that he looked forward to working with the legislature and state lawmakers to achieve cannabis legalization across the state.
One of the bills he signed into law is one of if not the first of its kind as it will allow for interstate cannabis trade between California and other states with legal markets on the condition that such trade would not put California at the risk of federal retaliation. It was introduced by Senator Anna Caballero.
Another cannabis legislation from Assemblymember Mia Bonta that sought to enhance California’s criminal justice provisions by directing courts to process record sealing faster and provided other forms of relief for people with certain cannabis convictions also received the governor’s approval. Courts now have until March 1, 2023, to seal records for eligible marijuana offenses that had not been challenged by July 1, 2020.
Hopefully, these cannabis laws just signed by Newsom will translate into tangible improvements in the cannabis market in which entities such as American Cannabis Partners operate.
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