Legal Weed: California Legislators Clear Marijuana Bills on Last Day of Session

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California lawmakers burned the midnight oil, working late into the night Aug. 31, 2018 — the last day of the legislative session — to consider 18 cannabis-related measures in the Assembly and state Senate. Now 17 bills await signatures from Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has already vetoed a bill to authorize cannabis education and informational training events, held for state and local government officials. Brown has until Sept. 30, 2018, exactly 30 days from the Aug. 31 adjournment, to sign and approve or veto the bills below.

SB 829 — Compassionate-care Licenses (Passed Assembly and Senate)

SB 829 would allow the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) to establish a compassionate-care license for donors of medicinal cannabis products to qualified patients with a physician’s recommendation. The bill also would limit tax collections on medical cannabis and medicinal cannabis products. SB 829 passed the Assembly on Aug. 29, 2018, by a 73-3 vote, and the Senate by a 35-2 vote on Aug. 31, 2018.

SB 1459 — Provisional Cannabis License (Passed Assembly and Senate)

SB 1459 would allow an additional year for the issue of provisional cannabis licenses by a licensing authority, with the date extended to Jan. 1, 2020. Initially drafted as a county agricultural regulation bill, SB 1459 has been amended seven times since it was first introduced in the Senate on Feb. 16, 2016, by Republican state Sen. Anthony Cannella. The bill received a final vote of 33-3 in the Senate and 73-1 in the Assembly with six Assembly members abstaining, both votes taking place Aug. 31, 2018. Many cannabis businesses currently holding temporary licenses still await final approval while local and county agencies conduct environmental impact and other compliance reviews in order to complete their conditional use permitting process. The temporary license provisions were set to expire Jan. 1, 2019. If approved by Brown, this bill would take effect immediately as an urgency statute.

SB 311 — Licensed Cannabis Distributors (Passed Assembly and Senate)

The state Senate voted 31-5 on Aug. 24, 2018, to pass SB 311, which would authorize a licensed distributor to transport cannabis products that are fit for sale between licensed testing laboratories and licensed distributors. The Assembly voted to amend and pass SB 311 on Aug. 16, 2018, with a vote of 70-1, with nine members abstaining. Assembly amendments declare this act an “urgency statute,” meaning this bill would take effect immediately in order to ensure the reliable distribution of safe, lab-tested cannabis, as quickly as possible.

SB 1451 — Penalties for Underage Sales (Passed Assembly and Senate)

Both chambers unanimously passed SB 1451, 74-0 with five abstaining in the Assembly, and 39-0 and one not voting in the Senate on Aug. 23 and 24, 2018, respectively. The bill proposes to suspend or revoke the license of any business that sells or provides cannabis or marijuana products to minors on its premises.  

SB 1294 — Equity Programs (Passed Assembly and Senate)

The Assembly approved final Senate amendments to SB 1294 on Aug. 31, 2018, with a vote of 60-16 and four abstaining votes. The bill was approved by the Senate that same day, Aug. 31, 2018, before it received final approval before the Assembly floor. The bill would require the BCC to provide technical and grant assistance when requested by qualified local applicants or licensees who are persons of color, women, disabled individuals and military veterans. SB 1294 awaits Brown’s signature.

SB 1127 — Administration of Medicinal Cannabis in Schools (Passed Assembly and Senate)

The Assembly and the Senate passed SB 1127, which proposes confidentiality for school records that show students using medicinal cannabis. The measure would not allow records to be open to the public for any reason other than a state or federal court order. SB 1127 initially failed in the Assembly on Aug. 24, 2018, because the 80-member chamber’s rules require a majority vote of at least 41 ayes to pass. The bill the received 39 votes in favor, 24 votes against, with 17 Assembly members abstaining. Republican Assembly member Kevin Mullin raised a motion to reconsider. After Mullin’s motion was granted, SB 1127 passed the Assembly with a vote of 42-29, with eight abstaining votes.

AB 3261 — Bureau of Cannabis Control (Passed Assembly and Senate)

AB 3261 changes the name of California’s marijuana regulator from the Bureau of Marijuana Control to the Bureau of Cannabis Control. The bill was passed unanimously by both the Senate and the Assembly on Aug. 28 and 29, 2018, respectively. The bill received a vote of 76-0 with four dissenting votes in the Assembly and 38-0 with two dissenting votes in the Senate.

AB 2899 — Cannabis Advertisement Restrictions (Passed Assembly and Senate)

The Assembly on Aug. 29, 2018, approved all Senate amendments made to AB 2899, which would prohibit a business with a suspended license from publishing advertisements or marketing materials for cannabis products. The vote was 79-0.

AB 2255 — Transportation Limits (Passed Assembly and Senate)

The Senate and Assembly each voted unanimously to approve AB 2255, which would prohibit licensed distributors from transporting any amount of cannabis that exceeds the amount stated on the shipping manifest. The bill would impose a fine of $500 for the first violation and increase by $50 increments for each subsequent violation. The bill would also prohibit law enforcement from seizing cannabis in transport unless officers have probable cause that can prove a criminal violation has occurred. The Senate voted 39-0 on Aug. 23, 2018. The bill was later approved by the Assembly on Aug. 27, 2018, with a vote of 78-0 and one abstention.

AB 2402 — Personal Information Privacy (Passed Assembly and Senate)

AB 2402 prohibits a licensed marijuana business from sharing a consumer’s personal information to a third party without the consumer’s consent. The bill would also prevent a licensee from denying a consumer a product or service if they do not consent to share their information. On Aug. 29, 2018, the Senate-amended bill was approved by the Assembly by a 62-10 vote, with seven Assembly members abstaining.

AB 2555 — Legal Language of Cannabis (Passed Assembly and Senate)

AB 2555 proposes to amend sections of the California Business and Professions code by adding definitions for the terms “immature cannabis plant,” “mature cannabis plant,” and “plant.” Additionally, instead of requiring a unique identifier to be issued for each cannabis plant, the bill would require a unique identifier for each mature cannabis plant only. On Aug. 24, 2018, the Assembly passed AB 2555 unanimously 39-0 with one member abstaining. The bill now awaits Brown’s signature.

AB 2215 — Veterinary Cannabis Medicine Ban (Passed Assembly and Senate)

AB 2215 would prohibit a veterinarian from recommending or administering cannabis to an animal patient. The Veterinary Medical Board board would be authorized to revoke or suspend a license or to assess a fine for violating a controlled substances law. On Aug. 30, 2018, all amendments were approved and the bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 63-5 with 11 members abstaining. The Senate had passed the bill Aug. 22, 2018. The bill moved to Brown’s desk for final approval.  

AB 2058 — Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis (Passed Assembly and Senate)

AB 2058 would make driving under the influence of cannabis or driving under the combined influence of alcohol and cannabis, each a separate offense. Existing law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination that can affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles. AB 2058 passed by the Assembly 76-1 with two abstaining votes on Aug. 27, 2018; concurring senate amendments passed Aug. 23, 2018.

AB 1863 — Personal Income Tax Deductions (Passed Assembly and Senate)

The Senate passed AB 1863 29-6, with five abstaining votes, on Aug. 21, 2018. The bill would allow California-licensed, state-compliant cannabis businesses to deduct business expenses under the Personal Income Tax Law. If passed, the bill would go into effect immediately.

AB 2980 — Common Areas Shared by Cannabis Businesses  (Passed Assembly and Senate)

AB 2980 would require that provisions of the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) not be interpreted to prohibit two or more licensed premises from sharing common-use areas, as long as all licensees comply with the requirements of the act. The bill passed the Senate 39-0 with one abstaining vote Aug. 21, 2018. The Assembly passed an amended bill Aug. 29, 2018, with a vote of 53-22 and four abstentions.  

AB 3069 — Informational, Educational, or Training Events (Vetoed by Governor)

Brown vetoed AB 3069, which would have authorized a cannabis training event held for state and local government officials, law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, child protective services workers, and social workers. Training events that comply with the bill’s requirements would not require a cannabis event license, including any cannabis retailers, cultivators, and manufacturers invited to participate.

In his veto message Aug. 28, 2018, Brown wrote, “Nothing in current law or regulation, prohibits informational or education events from occurring. Therefore, this bill is unnecessary.”

AB 3069 passed the Assembly and Senate on Aug. 13, 2018. Now, the bill’s only chance of passage is if both chambers revisit the bill and re-approve it by two-thirds majorities.

AB 2020 — Temporary Event Licenses (Passed Assembly and Senate)

AB 2020, which would expand venue options for temporary cannabis events to any location approved by a local or county licensing agency, passed the Assembly with a vote of 60-15 on Aug. 29, 2018. The BCC would award one license for the event, on the condition that all participating retailers or micro-business in the event are licensed under the MAUCRSA. This bill, along with AB 2641 and SB 1459, would allow for more business to obtain licenses and hold cannabis events throughout California while the state and local jurisdictions make efforts to ensure compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other regulations.  

AB 2914 — Ban on Cannabis in Alcoholic Beverages (Passed Assembly and Senate)

Both the Senate and Assembly passed AB 2914, which would prohibit a cannabis licensee from producing or selling cannabis products in alcoholic beverages. This bill would also prohibit an alcoholic beverage licensee from selling, offering, or providing cannabis or cannabis products.

After amendments, the Senate on Aug. 27, 2018, passed AB 2914 by a 34-3 vote, with three senators abstaining. A day later, the Assembly unanimously approved all amendments by a 77-0 vote, with two Assembly members abstaining.

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