Key California marijuana bills face June 1 hurdle at state Capitol

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california bills marijuana, Key California marijuana bills face June 1 hurdle at state Capitol

The California marijuana industry suffered a significant setback in the statehouse last week when a bill to reduce a statewide excise tax died in committee.

Although that bill was considered the top legislative priority for the California Cannabis Industry Association, it’s far from the only measure the CCIA is tracking. Industry watchers should note:

  • The organization’s internal bill roundup identifies an eye-popping 50 marijuana-related bills that have been introduced so far at the state Capitol. That’s a reminder to the industry the regulations under which it operates will likely continue to evolve throughout 2018 and into 2019.
  • Each of this year’s bills faces another hurdle on June 1, when any measure that hasn’t passed either the full Senate or full Assembly is formally dead for the current legislative session.

Marijuana Business Daily spoke with the CCIA’s chief lobbyist, Amy Jenkins of Platinum Advisors, to get an update on which bills may have the biggest impact on the cannabis industry.

It appears both lawmakers and regulators are trying to ease burdens on businesses rather than install new rules for them to deal with, which is generally a positive sign for the industry, Jenkins observed.

But, she said, changes are still on their way – and coming soon.

“The industry needs to be prepared to adjust and pivot as new changes come online, and I don’t see that ending this year,” Jenkins noted.

She emphasized that industry officials who want to see any of the bills succeed should contact lawmakers themselves.

“A lot of your readers should be prepared to see letters and emails that are going to be coming out from CCIA, urging them to engage directly,” Jenkins said. “Legislators want to hear from their locals.”

Jenkins singled out seven bills as CCIA’s top business-oriented priorities for the year:

Assembly Bill 3157  

What it would do: This is the tax reduction bill that technically died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week. If it had been approved, it would have lowered the statewide cannabis excise tax to 11% from 15% temporarily through June 2021.

Primary sponsors: Assemblymen Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) and Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg)

Status: The bill has been killed, but Jenkins said the issue may be resurrected later this year as an amendment to the state budget or in some other fashion. “The fight is not over, as far as we’re concerned,” she stressed.

Senate Bill 1302

What it would do: Prohibit municipalities and counties from banning marijuana delivery companies from performing deliveries into jurisdictions that have banned MJ businesses, essentially giving delivery operators more leeway into where they can service customers.

Primary sponsors: Sens. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood), Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont)

Status: Awaiting approval by the full Senate.

Assembly Bill 2020

What it would do: Currently, events that allow recreational marijuana sales and consumption are relegated to county fairgrounds or properties run by district agricultural associations. This bill would allow such events to be held at any site as long as organizers have the permission of local authorities, basically expanding the scope of legal cannabis festivals like the Emerald Cup.

Primary sponsor: Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward)

Status: Passed by the full Assembly, awaiting its first Senate committee hearing.

Assembly Bill 2641

What it would do: Another event-related bill, the measure would allow growers and product manufacturers to obtain temporary event retail licenses so they could transport their goods straight to marijuana festivals and market or sell directly to consumers. Any licensee would be limited to a maximum of four such permits per calendar year.

Primary sponsors: Assemblyman Wood

Status: Awaiting approval by the full Assembly.

Assembly Bill 1741

What it would do: Allow licensed marijuana companies with monthly tax bills of $10,000 or more to pay state taxes via means other than only an electronic funds transfer. Essentially it would help businesses without bank accounts comply with the law and pay their taxes.

Primary sponsors: Assemblyman Bonta

Status: Passed by the Assembly, awaiting its first Senate committee hearing.

Assembly Bill 1863

What it would do: Allow licensed marijuana companies to take standard business expense deductions under the state Personal Income Tax Law.

Primary sponsors: Assemblymen Jones-Sawyer, Bonta, Cooley, Lackey and Wood

Status: Passed by the Assembly, awaiting its first Senate committee hearing.

Senate Bill 930

What it would do: Establish a state-run financial institution for marijuana companies to use in lieu of regular banks, given the ongoing problem many in the industry have finding regular bank accounts.

Primary sponsor: Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys)

Status: Awaiting final passage in the Senate.

John Schroyer can be reached at