California Bills Legalize Possession of Psychedelics, Allow Interstate Trade in Marijuana, and More

California’s bills to legalize possession of psychedelics, create the infrastructure to enable interstate marijuana trade, prohibit localities from banning medical cannabis delivery services, and impose new labeling requirements for cannabis products are all up for review by a key Assembly committee next week.

On Wednesday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee placed those four proposals, along with a litany of unrelated measures, in its holding file. If the panel approves the bills passed by the Senate at a follow-up meeting next week, they will then go to the Assembly.

There was no discussion of any of these bills during the panel’s lengthy meeting of hundreds of pieces of legislation on Wednesday, but the procedural developments are good news for advocates keen to push reform forward. this session. Lawmakers are more likely to debate the proposals when they meet next week.

Here is a breakdown of the drug policy measures that will be considered by the committee before possibly moving to the prosecution:

SB 519: Sen. Scott Wiener (D) has been hard at work on a bill that would legalize the possession of certain amounts of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA by adults 21 and older. It has already passed the Senate and gone through two Assembly committees, but was put on hold last year to give the sponsor more time to drum up support.

The senator told Marijuana Moment late last year that he believed the measure had a “50/50” chance of being signed into law this year.

The legislation would remove criminal penalties for possession of substances like psilocybin, DMT, MDMA and LSA for adults 21 and older.

If the Appropriations Committee ends up approving the bill for consideration from the floor and it passes the full House, it will still have to return to the Senate for approval of House amendments before possibly heading towards Governor Gavin Newsom’s office (D).

There have been tensions within the psychedelics advocacy community over the proposal, which was previously amended to include possession limits and remove ketamine from the list of substances that would no longer be criminalized.

Under the measure, the state Department of Public Health would be required to create a task force “to study and make recommendations regarding possible regulatory systems that California might adopt to promote safe and equitable access.” to certain substances in authorized legal contexts”. These recommendations would be due by January 1, 2024.

For psilocybin specifically, the legislation would repeal provisions of California law that prohibit the cultivation or transportation of “any spore or mycelium capable of producing fungi or other matter” containing the psychoactive ingredient.

The bill originally included provisions for sealing records and re-sentencing for those previously convicted of psychedelic possession offenses, but that language was removed when it was last stopped in committee before the vote. of the Senate as part of a sponsor’s amendment.

SB 1186: Another bill from Wiener, the legislation “would prohibit a local jurisdiction from adopting or enforcing any regulation prohibiting the retail sale by delivery within the local jurisdiction of medical cannabis to medical cannabis patients or their primary caregivers by medical cannabis companies”.

Currently, more than half of the cities and counties in the state do not allow any type of cannabis licensees to operate in their area, which has created a regulatory vacuum that many believe allows the illicit market to thrive. . This legislation aims to promote patient access, but it could theoretically help solve this overriding problem.

State officials launched a new resource in May, providing people with an interactive map of where marijuana businesses are allowed — and where they can’t open — across the state.

Newsom also recently signed a budget bill that includes a provision to create a one-time $20 million grant program to support the development and implementation of local retail licensing efforts.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters by pledging at least $25/month, access our interactive maps, charts, and audience calendar so they don’t miss a thing.

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SB 1326: Sen. Anna Caballero (D) has had a bill placed in the Appropriations Committee’s pending docket that would set the stage for allowing interstate marijuana trade from California to other legal states, as long as the government federal government authorizes it through legislation or a Department of Justice. to renouncer.

“The bill would prohibit an entity holding a cannabis business license issued under the laws of another state from engaging in cannabis business activity within the boundaries of that state without a state license, or in a local jurisdiction without a license, permit or other authorization issued by the local jurisdiction,” says a legislative analysis.

Late last year, a campaign called the Alliance for Sensible Markets began rallying the business community to join them in asking the governors of four key states, including California, to seek advice from the Department of Justice. on interstate cannabis trade.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) has previously signaled she will be on board by signing a bill in 2019 that would allow the import and export of marijuana from other states if the law or federal policy so requires. Activists had hoped to pass similar legislation in California last year, but the coronavirus pandemic derailed that.

Shortly after Oregon’s governor signed the interstate commerce bill into law, two members of the state’s congressional delegation tabled a measure that would similarly authorize such activity, preventing the Department of Justice to interfere in states that have affirmative agreements to sell marijuana across state lines. However, the legislation has not advanced.

SB 1097: A bill by Sen. Richard Pan (D) that also advanced in the docket on Wednesday would require the state Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) “to pass regulations to require that cannabis labels and inserts and cannabis products include a clear and visible warning about the risks that cannabis use may contribute to mental health problems, in addition to existing labeling requirements.

There are already labeling requirements for marijuana products sold in California, but Pan’s legislation would impose new rules, a proposal some industry groups say is unnecessary.

The legislation would also require CDC to create and publish public pamphlets containing “prescribed information, including, among other things, advising new users to start with lower doses and the dangers of buying cannabis and cannabis products.” of cannabis sold illegally”.

Here is an overview of recent drug policy developments in California:

Another bill that Wiener is sponsoring to create a pilot program of safe drug consumption sites in parts of California is moving forward. The legislation passed its final legislative vote this week and is now heading to the governor’s office.

Last month, California officials awarded more than $1.7 million in grants to help promote sustainable marijuana growing practices and help growers obtain their annual licenses. A total of $6 million will be allocated under the program, which was first announced in August 2021 and will remain open for applications until April 2023.

Regulators also recently announced they are seeking comment on proposed rules to standardize cannabis testing methods in the state — an effort they hope will stop marijuana companies from “lab buying.” to find facilities more likely to show higher THC concentrations than they can then boast of their products.

Meanwhile, California officials are handing out another round of community reinvestment grants totaling $35.5 million with tax revenue generated from recreational marijuana sales.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced last month that it has awarded 78 grants to organizations across the state that will support economic and social development in communities disproportionately affected by the war on Drugs.

The amount of funding and the number of recipients increased from last year’s levels, when the state awarded about $29 million in grants to 58 nonprofits under the CalCRG program.

California has collected nearly $4 billion in marijuana tax revenue since launching the state’s adult use market in 2018, the Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) reported at the end of the last month. And for the first quarter of 2022, the state saw approximately $294 million in cannabis revenue generated from excise, cultivation, and sales tax on marijuana.

The state collected about $817 million in adult marijuana tax revenue last fiscal year. This represented 55% more cannabis revenue for state coffers than was generated in the 2020-2021 period.

California officials also announced in January that the state had provided $100 million in funding to help develop local marijuana markets, in part by securing a full license for cannabis businesses.

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Image element courtesy of Kristie Gianopulos.

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Bernard P. Love