CA: Cannabis Issues Among Priorities As Legislators Return From Break

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Ron Strider

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California legislators returned to Sacramento Aug. 21 as the Legislature reconvened following a month off.

As lawmakers head back to work, there are a number of major issues left to work on. One of the bigger issues that will have a significant effect locally is working out the kinks in cannabis regulation.

The bills are among nearly 50 in front of lawmakers as the deadline to open the state’s recreational market — Jan. 1, 2018 — rapidly approaches.

Both North Coast legislators, Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) and Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) have proposed legislation that would regulate cannabis.

Here’s where some of the cannabis-related bills are in the legislative process.

Marketing >> McGuire introduced SB 175, which would regulate marketing and advertising of cannabis products. The bill would prohibit using the name of a county — or one that sounds like it — for a product unless the cannabis product originated in that specific county. The bill has moved from the Senate to the Assembly and is currently in the agriculture committee.

Prop 64 >> Wood co-authored AB 64, which clarifies some of the provisions of Proposition 64. AB 64 specifies a licensed medical marijuana business or a collective can operate either for profit or as a nonprofit; specifies that a dispensary does not necessarily need to have a storefront as could be the case with a delivery service; prohibiting marijuana advertising on interstates and highways; authorizes the Secretary of State to issue trademarks for cannabis products; and loans $3 million from the General Fund to the California Highway Patrol to research marijuana DUI detection. In an appropriations hearing on Aug. 21, the bill — along with most other cannabis bills up for fiscal discussion — were sent to what is called the suspense file. That means the bills are on hold. The bills have until Sept. 1 to move out of the fiscal committee.

Law enforcement >> Wood is co-author of AB 1578, which would prevent local law enforcement from working with federal authorities to “investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity,†according to the bill’s text, absent a court order signed by a judge. The bill was ordered to a third reading in late June.

Tax breaks >> Introduced by Wood, AB 420, would allow cannabis businesses to deduct business expenses on state income taxes — a move that strays from the federal rules on the issue. In an appropriations hearing on Aug. 21, the bill was sent to the suspense file.

Tax collection >> AB 1410, a joint project between Wood and McGuire would allow a licensed distributor to remit taxes to the state Board of Equalization, which allows flexibility to the cultivator. The bill is supported by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, which wrote a letter of support for the legislation in March. Like others in Senate appropriations on Monday, the bill was sent to the suspense file.

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