2018 was an important year for cannabusinesses in California and the increasing popularity in weed has lead to more products, events and research than ever before. Over 30 million adults identified themselves as “current marijuana users” in a recent Gallup poll and almost half of respondents have tried marijuana at least once.
Prop. 64, which legalized adult recreational use cannabis, helped create a greener, more compassionate cannabis culture. But this voter-approved initiative left a lot of vagueness about the testing, sale and tracking of consumer cannabis products. Pending and upcoming legislation aims to build on the Prop. 64 and create a more set of laws by which cannabis users and businesses must abide.
Dispensaries are currently falling short of demand, according to a report by Marijuana Business Daily. Despite the recent boom in businesses the state currently has only 358 licensed recreational marijuana stores. To put it in perspective, Oregon, a state with 35,000,000 fewer people has 15 times more dispensaries than California. Laws on dispensaries still vary by county so some residents face over an hour drive to their closest dispensary.
Marijuana delivery services are stepping in to fill the void of adult-use dispensaries across the state. The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), which issues most retail permits maintains that Proposition 64 allows for statewide deliveries. According to ABC 10, the BCC added explicit language authorizing statewide delivery after cities and counties that ban marijuana threatened to arrest marijuana delivery people. The pending provision will become law in Jan. 2019 unless California’s Office of Administrative Law objects.
Regulations on dispensaries continue to roll out. In addition to the 15 percent tax and daily limits on per-customer purchases (28.5 grams of non-concentrated, 8 grams of concentrated and 6 plants), dispensaries and cannabusinesses’ advertising will be subject to greater scrutiny.
Although Prop. 64 already has provisions to restrict broadcast, cable, radio, print and digital advertising of cannabis to certain audiences, a legal loophole allowed online advertisers to market cannabis products to minors.
AB 3067, introduced by California Assemblyman Ed Chau, prohibit cannabis, cannabis products, cannabis business, or paraphernalia from advertising to minors using the Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World (PRCMDC).
Coming in 2019, will be AB 1793, a bill introduced by Assemblyman Rob Bonta. If passed, this bill would speed up the process by which the Department of Justice reviews marijuana-related convictions which may result in lesser sentences.
For example, certain acts previously categorized as felonies would be redesignated as misdemeanors and acs which would previously have received a citation may only result in a fine or in no legal action at all. Although it’s unclear how quickly past convictions would be reviewed, this process is a step in the right direction for more compassionate sentences.
Also on the agenda for 2019 is SB 930, proposed by state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, which would create banks specifically for the cannabis industry – ending the cash-only nightmare of going to a dispensary – and possibly reducing robberies at cash-heavy dispensaries.
Another promising option is AB 2020, which would allow local governments to approve temporary cannabis event licenses at any venue they wish to permit rather than requiring event organizers to obtain a permit from the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC). BCC and law enforcement would still have the right to revoke permits if local laws, such as second-hand smoke or noise limits, were not followed.
Perhaps the most optimistic prediction for 2019 is Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer plan legalize cannabis by the end of the year. Blumenauer feels that the public will be able to pressure the senior body of Congress into passing the bill. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he cited a poll stating that 69 percent of registered voters support legalizing pot.