The State of Cannabis Legislation In Sacramento

By Amy Jenkins

Last Friday marked the final day bills could be amended before the session adjourns for the year on August 31.  As you may know, AB 1575 (Bonta), which would have made changes to the Medical Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act (MCSRA) was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 11.

Following the bill’s demise, there was a great deal of pressure at the end of last week to try and resuscitate the bill and/or identify a new bill vehicle, get support for new language and meet the Friday bill amendment deadline of August 19.

It would appear that many in the Capitol have made the political calculation that Proposition 64 - the ballot measure to legalize cannabis for adult use - will pass in November.  Hence, there is very little interest in doing anything this year.  This sentiment is reflected in the lack of cannabis related bills that continue to move through the process.  At the beginning of this year, roughly 20 cannabis-related bills had been introduced.  Only 6 bills remain, as of today, with the fate of many undermined.

In meetings I had in the Capitol last week, many were adamant that nothing should move this year unless a compelling case can be made that its absolutely necessary in advance of the November Election. 

While the exact process is yet to be determined, it has been suggested that distinctions between Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), and the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) may be up for discussion next year.  Could such distinctions include some of the MCRSA’s most controversial elements, such as mandatory distribution, how an “owner" for purposes of applying for a license is determined and cross licensure restrictions? One can hope.

I have repeatedly made the argument that the only distinctions between the two frameworks – AUMA and MCRSA – should involve product standards and potency, as we are dealing with medical products vs. recreational products, though its anyones’s guess as to how things will be addressed.

Nonetheless, I think we can expect another busy legislative year for the cannabis industry in 2017 and I, for one, am looking forward to it.