Gov. Gavin Newsom told lawmakers to make weed more accessible in California, in the process of putting pen to paper on nine cannabis bills. 

We dove into the interstate aspects in print this week, but other bills included AB 1706, which would set a March 2023 deadline for courts to seal unchallenged cases; SB1186, which allows statewide delivery regardless of local bans; and AB 1885, which provides even more protections to veterinarians that want to talk cannabis options with the owners of their patients. 

The bill receiving the most press nationally was AB 2188. Assemblymember Bill Quirk’s bill prohibits most nonsafety sensitive employers from discriminating against applicants and workers for using cannabis when they are not at work. The backbone of that bill is the prohibition on most employers from using the presence of non-psychoactive metabolites of cannabis as the determination of a failed drug test. When you pee in a cup, that’s what they’re looking for. 

California NORML has been a major sponsor of the effort to protect off-the-clock use. 

“On behalf of our members, and all Californians, we thank Gov. Newsom for his commitment to cannabis legalization, human rights, and workers’ rights,” said Cal NORML deputy director Ellen Komp.

Newsom’s office argues the state and local progress is there, but “rigid bureaucracy” and federal law have complicated any attempts to gain further momentum. 

“For too many Californians, the promise of cannabis legalization remains out of reach,” Gov. Newsom noted in his signing statement on the nine cannabis bills. “These measures build on the important strides our state has made toward this goal, but much work remains to build an equitable, safe and sustainable legal cannabis industry. I look forward to partnering with the Legislature and policymakers to fully realize cannabis legalization in communities across California.”

The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) echoed the Governor’s call for wider access. The DCC noted that based on the most recent local data sets from August 2022, 61% of cities and counties in California ban, de facto ban, or refuse to license any retail cannabis businesses. Slightly less, 56%, do not allow the licensing of any type of cannabis business.

“Californians have overwhelmingly embraced the legal, regulated market. Areas of prohibition challenge this reality and lend to an environment where illegal activity can thrive, threatening consumer safety and the vision of legalization,” said DCC Director Nicole Elliott. “I am grateful the governor has clearly prioritized policy changes this year that will help expand safe access to regulated cannabis products, diminish economic incentives to engage in illegal activity, and better support our ability to create a safe, sustainable and equitable cannabis market.”

Here is the full list of bills signed by the Governor earlier this week.

  • AB 1706 by Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) – Cannabis crimes: resentencing
  • AB 1646 by Assemblymember Phillip Chen (R-Yorba Linda) – Cannabis packaging: beverages
  • AB 1885 by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) – Cannabis and cannabis products: animals: veterinary medicine
  • AB 1894 by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) – Integrated cannabis vaporizer: packaging, labeling, advertisement, and marketing
  • AB 2210 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) – Cannabis: state temporary event licenses: venues licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control: unsold inventory
  • AB 2188 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) – Discrimination in employment: use of cannabis
  • AB 2568 by Assemblymember Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) – Cannabis: insurance providers
  • AB 2925 by Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) – California Cannabis Tax Fund: spending reports
  • SB 1186 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) – Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Right of Access Act
  • SB 1326 by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Merced) – Cannabis: interstate agreements

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