Politics

32 marijuana bills pending in California legislature following Prop. 64

Should police officers be able to use a controversial spit test to see if they believe drivers are high?

Should billboards advertising pot shops be allowed on state highways?

Should marijuana business owners have to drive hundreds of miles with their trunks full of cash to pay their tax bills?

These are a few of the questions California legislators are attempting to tackle through 32 bills that have been proposed since voters legalized recreational marijuana with Proposition 64 in November.

Prop. 64 was 62 pages long. And it combined elements of three lengthy bills approved in 2015 to start to overhaul California’s loosely regulated medical marijuana program. But state leaders say there are still too many conflicts between those two systems, too many loopholes left open, too many protections missing and too many details left vague for the state to start issuing licenses for both medical and recreational marijuana businesses by Jan. 1, 2018.

That’s where “clean-up legislation” comes into play, with Feb. 17 the deadline to submit bills for consideration during this legislative session.

Below is a complete list of cannabis-related legislation now pending before the California Senate and Assembly. Two wide-reaching bills are listed first, which cover everything from trademarking to underage stings at pot shops. The remainder of the bills are organized by the topics they address, from taxes to packaging.

Assembly Bill 64

Who’s behind it: Assemblymen Rob Bonta, D-Oakland; Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova; Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles; Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale; and Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg

What it would do: Reconcile some of the differences between the state’s medical marijuana reform signed into law in 2015 and Prop. 64. Here are the key changes proposed.

  • Allows businesses and collectives to operate as either for-profit or nonprofit entities. But if a collective chooses to try and make money, the bill clarifies they’re only protected if they have a state seller’s permit and a valid local license.
  • Lets dispensary or retailers sell either through a storefront or without one, giving delivery services a legal path forward.
  • Makes cannabis industry billboards illegal on any interstate or state highway, rather than just highways that cross state lines as stated in Prop. 64.
  • Creates a way for business owners to trademark both medical and nonmedical marijuana products at the state level.
  • Advances $3 million to the CHP to develop better tests and protocols for catching people driving under the influence of marijuana. Prop. 64 dedicates funds to that purpose starting in the 2018-19 fiscal year, so this bill would advance the $3 million as a loan starting in the 2017-18 fiscal year, to be paid back out of future pot tax revenues.

Where it stands: Introduced Dec. 12; waiting to be assigned to a committee

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


Assembly Bill 729

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced

What it would do: Establish a number of strict new rules — and penalties for violating those rules — for licensed recreational cannabis businesses in the state. Here are the key changes proposed.

  • Require the state to suspend licenses for any pot shop caught selling to customers under 21 years old three times in less then three years, plus give the state the option of revoking the license altogether.
  • Require shops to posts a sign that says: “No Person Under 21 Allowed”
  • Authorize shops to refuse to sell marijuana products to anyone who can’t present a valid ID showing they’re at least 21. Also, if someone under 21 shows them a valid or fake ID to try to buy cannabis, the shops would be allowed to keep that ID.
  • Ban the sale of marijuana products from vending machines or similar devices.
  • Allow police officers to inspect all recreational marijuana businesses, including anywhere they might find evidence of tax evasion. (Prop. 64 only allows the state’s cannabis bureau to inspect businesses to ensure they’re complying with state law.)
  • Prohibit any marijuana businesses from being located within a 600-foot radius of a playground, hospital or church unless the city or state licensing authority says otherwise. (Prop. 64 only bans the businesses near K-12 schools, day cares or youth centers.)
  • Require shops that have windows or transparent doors to keep them largely unobstructed so law enforcement can see inside.
  • Add rules about how people under 21 can be used in sting operations to catch shops selling to underage buyers. The bill would require that minors get their picture taken before participating and that they present a real ID if the shop asks for one. It would also let authorities record the transaction, and it would require that they immediately notify the shop about the sting operation once it’s complete.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 15; may be heard in committee March 18

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


FEDERAL CONFLICT

Assembly Bill 1578

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, with support from Assemblymen Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, and David Chiu, D-San Francisco, plus Senators Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley

What it would do: Prohibit state or local agencies from using their resources to help federal authorities investigate, detain, detect, report, arrest or transfer anyone for any cannabis activity that’s allowed under California law unless there’s a court order signed by a judge.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 845

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg

What it would do: Says that if the federal government allows doctors to start writing prescriptions for products containing cannabidiol or CBD — the compound in marijuana thought to have the most medical benefits without making consumers high — it would immediately be allowed in California, too.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 16; may be heard in committee March 19

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


TAXES

Assembly Bill 1410

Who’s behind it:  Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, with support from Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg

What it would do: Require marijuana distributors to collect cultivation taxes, rather than having cultivators pay them directly. Distributors would then file tax returns for the cultivation tax.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Senate Bill 148, a.k.a. the “Cannabis Safe Payment Act”

Who’s behind it: Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, with support from Board of Equalization Chair Fiona Ma

What it would do: Allow cannabis businesses to pay state taxes and fees in cash at multiple designated locations throughout the state, including county offices.

Major banks and credit card companies still won’t service the industry since marijuana remains federally illegal. Cannabis business owners are then left dealing largely in cash, which means they often have to travel long distances carrying that cash to make payments to the Board of Equalization and other state agencies.

Under this bill, counties could opt to collect payments and forward them along to the appropriate state agency. And it would let the state tax collector also accept payments for other state agencies, expanding options for where business owners can settle their bills.

“We need to make it as easy and safe as possible for cannabis business owners to pay their taxes and fees, and we should not force them to drive hundreds of miles with a trunkful of cash just to comply with the law,” Wiener said in a statement.

Where it stands: Introduced Jan. 17; referred to the Committee on Governance and Finance

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 963

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson

What it would do: Create strict rules and criminal penalties aimed at combating tax evasion by marijuana businesses. The bill, pushed by Board of Equalization member and Prop. 64 opponent Jerome Horton, would:

  • Make it so that anyone who files false financial reports to avoid paying taxes commits a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine of $300 to $5,000, up to one year in jail or both.
  • Require marijuana distributors to collect prepayment of taxes.
  • Require the state to develop medical marijuana cards that can be digitally scanned to ensure the patient’s status for them to avoid paying state sales tax.
  • Establish a Cannabis Criminal Enforcement Team that would focus on fighting tax evasion in the industry.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 16; may be heard in committee March 19

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


DRIVER SAFETY

Senate Bill 698

Who’s behind it: Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo

An officer and citizen demonstrate the use of a saliva swab test that can check for drugged driving. (COURTESY OF DRAGER)

What it would do: Make it an infraction for a driver who has a blood alcohol content between 0.04 percent and 0.07 percent to also have 5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana’s active compound THC in their system or traces of any other illegal substance. (It’s now illegal to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent, with no set threshold for THC.) Anyone caught with that amount of alcohol and THC in their system would have their driver’s license suspended, have to take classes and install a breathalyzer device on their ignition for six months.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Senate Bill 65

Who’s behind it: Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, with support from Assemblyman Evan Low,  D-Campbell

What it would do: Close a potential loophole in Prop. 64 by clarifying that it’s illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana while driving.

It’s currently illegal to have an “open container” of weed in a vehicle.  It’s also illegal to drive while high. But existing laws don’t address actual usage while driving.

This bill would make it an infraction for anyone to smoke or consume marijuana in any form while driving a vehicle or piloting a boat or plane – consistent with the law on alcohol.

“This bill will give law enforcement and judges more tools to crack down on smoking pot or drinking while driving,” Hill said.

Where it stands: Introduced Dec. 29; referred to the Committee on Transportation and Housing plus the Committee on Public Safety

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 6

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale

What it would do: Let law enforcement officers start using a heavily debated roadside saliva test to help determine whether a driver has consumed marijuana.

Fullerton police officer Jae Song arrest a man suspected of driving while impaired by marijuana. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The bill would allow officers to take a spit swab from drivers who’ve failed field sobriety tests, then use portable instruments promise to detect the presence of pot and other drugs within minutes. If they test positive, officers would then take them to the station for a blood test and possible arrest.

The technology remains controversial because there’s no clear impairment threshold with marijuana as there is with alcohol. Also, critics argue that the roadside testing device is still experimental, citing studies that show the tests are least effective at detecting impairment, in part because marijuana stays in a person’s system long after its effects have worn off.

As a former CHP officer, Lackey said, “I’ve seen the tragedy that results from impaired driving. I feel like I have a responsibility to be the voice on this issue.”

Where it stands: Introduced Dec. 5; referred to the Committee on Public Safety

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 903

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-Templeton

What it would do: Would allow the California Highway Patrol to use a portion of the $3 million it will get from marijuana tax revenues starting in the 2018-19 fiscal year to study the viability of exsiting standards for determining whether someone is impaired by marijuana. This would be an addition to part of Prop. 64 that gives the CHP money to study new testing methods.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 16; may be heard in committee March 19

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


REVENUE

Assembly Bill 1135

Who’s behind it:  Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg

What it would do: Create a process that lets stakeholders weigh in on how the Department of Public Health spends its allotted portion of marijuana tax revenues.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 844

Who’s behind it: Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Inglewood

What it would do: Would require minimum standards for any nonprofits that receive grants funded by marijuana tax revenues to help connect people with needed services, such as substance abuse treatment or job placement. Requirements include that the nonprofit organization is open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year and that they have trained staff that can offer clients help in multiple languages.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 16; may be heard in committee March 19

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

(See also Assembly Bill 903 under “Driver safety” above.)


EDIBLES

Assembly Bill 1606

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove

What it would do: Paves the way for legislators to craft a policy establishing quality standards for edibles.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 350

Name-brand cannabis products are on display at a dispensary in Sacramento called A Therapeutic Alternative. (Laurel Rosenhall/CalMatters)

Who’s behind it: Assemblymen Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield

What it would do: Would add more details to rules in Prop. 64 that forbid companies from making recreational marijuana products designed to appeal to kids.

This bill specifically says manufacturers couldn’t make edibles “in the shape of a person, animal, insect, fruit or in another shape normally associated with candy.” But it states companies could make edibles in the shape of their logo.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 8; may be heard in committee March 11

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


TESTING

Assembly Bill 1627

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova

What it would do: Transfer regulation of marijuana testing laboratories from the State Department of Public Health to the state’s cannabis bureau.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Senate Bill 311

Every entry in the Emerald Cup’s cannabis competition is tested at SC Labs in Santa Cruz. (Pat Tehan, Bay Area News Group)

Who’s behind it: Senator Richard Pan, D-Sacramento

What it would do: Would allow licensed cannabis businesses to test marijuana products they’ve received from another supplier on their premises for quality assurance — something not permitted under current laws. The bill makes is clear that any such testing in no way replaces mandatory, third-party testing that will soon be required for all marijuana products under both Proposition 64 and medical marijuana laws.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 13; may be heard in committee on or after March 16

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


TRIBAL LANDS

Assembly Bill 1096

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland

What it would do: Paves the way for legislators to craft a policy about medical cannabis that’s grown on and then transported out of tribal lands.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


RESEARCH

Assembly Bill 1002

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, with support from Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale

What it would do: Authorize the University of California to grow cannabis for research purposes and expand the focus of the university system’s research on marijuana.

Existing law created the California Marijuana Research Program through the University of California, with tax revenue dedicated to research on the usefulness of marijuana in treating certain medical conditions. This bill would change the name to the Center for Cannabis Research and authorize the university program to also study testing methods for finding mold and other contaminants, plus study the affect of synthetic cannabis compounds.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 16; may be heard in committee March 19

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


CBD

Assembly Bill 416

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Visalia

(Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)

What it would do: Paves the way for legislators to craft a policy specific to cannabis enriched with CBD, the compound in the plant that’s said to have much of its medical benefits without making consumers feel high.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 9; may be heard in committee March 12

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

(See also Assembly Bill 845 under “Federal conflict” above.)


UNIONS

Assembly Bill 238

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga

What it would do: Make it illegal for anyone with a state license to distribute marijuana – transporting it from growers and manufacturers to retailers – to turn someone down for a job because they aren’t part of a union. The bill also states entrepreneurs applying for a business license can’t be denied simply because they employ people who aren’t unionized.

The bill is aimed at preventing groups like the Teamsters, who represent much of the trucking world, from getting a monopoly on the industry, according to Brandon Ebeck, legislative director for Steinorth.

The Teamsters initially opposed Prop. 64, donating $25,000 to fight the initiative. But they soon changed their tune and opted to remain neutral, with one leader saying they were optimistic they could lobby legislators after the bill was passed to give their members a place in the regulated market.

Where it stands: Introduced Jan. 30; may be heard in committee March 2

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


ADVERTISING

Assembly Bill 76

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park

What it would do: Give leaders a path to introduce legislation that strengthens prohibitions on marketing recreational marijuana to children.

Where it stands: Introduced Jan. 4; waiting on referral to a committee

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 1143

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced

What it would do: Add marijuana to the list of substances, along with alcohol and tobacco, that can’t be advertised on billboards placed along highways on city-owned property.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Senate Bill 175

Who’s behind it: Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg

What it would do: Prohibit marijuana businesses from using both the name of a California county or any name that appears similar to it unless their cannabis is produced in that county.

State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, testifies at a 2016 hearing in Sacramento. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

State law already says it’s illegal for marijuana products to use the name of a California county in the product’s labeling, marketing or packaging if the marijuana was not grown in that county. McGuire’s bill expands those prohibitions to include “any similar sounding name that is likely to mislead consumers as to the origin of the product.”

“A similar battle was fought several years ago by the wine industry and it was resolved by legislation that prevented individuals and corporations from making marketing claims that weren’t true, or what we call ‘alternative facts’ these days,” McGuire said. “This legislation is all about truth in labeling.”

Where it stands: Introduced Jan. 23; referred to the Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 420

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg

What it would do: Would require all ads for either medical or recreational marijuana products to clearly state who has a license to sell whatever is being advertised by listing, at a minimum, the seller’s license number on the ad.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 9; may be heard in committee March 12

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


CONSUMER INFORMATION AND TRANSPARENCY

Assembly Bill 389

Who’s behind it: Assemblymen Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield; Anna Caballero, D-Salinas; and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles

What it would do: Would require the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation to make a marijuana consumer guide available to the public online by July 1, 2018. The state website would have to include information such as where recreational marijuana may be purchased, how much can be bought at one time, rules on public consumption and more.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 9; may be heard in committee March 12

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 171

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale

What it would do: Add some accountability to annual state reports on cannabis licenses.

State law already requires every state agency issuing licenses to cannabis businesses to file an annual report that’s posted online, listing information such as the number of licenses issued that year. This bill would require them to also include those reports the number of conditional licenses issued.

Where it stands: Introduced Jan. 17; waiting on referral to a committee

Read the full bill and track it:leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Assembly Bill 1527

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, with support from Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale

What it would do: Prohibit a former employee of the state cannabis bureau or any agency responsible for licensing marijuana businesses from working for any licensed cannabis business for one year, plus block businesses from hiring former licensing agents for a year. And if they violate that rule, they would have their license immediately suspended and possibly revoked.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


PACKAGING

Assembly Bill 175

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park

What it would do: Require edibles companies to submit packaging and labels to the state for approval before introducing the products to the market.

A variety of cannabis chocolates available at Laguna Woods Medical Cannabis. (Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Under the bill, the state’s Bureau of Marijuana Control would have up to 60 days to check that the packaging complies with Prop. 64, including requirements that it be child resistant and not attractive to children. And the bureau would get to charge the manufacturer a fee for reviewing the packaging.

The bill also creates a process for edibles companies to redesign packaging as needed and appeal any rulings.

Where it stands: Introduced Jan. 17; waiting on referral to a committee

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Senate Bill 663

Who’s behind it: Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber

What it would do: Ban labels on marijuana products that look similar to any candy, snack food, drink or baked good without marijuana that’s already on the market, to help keep products away from kids.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


CONCENTRATES

Assembly Bill 1244

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Randy Voepel, R-Santee

What it would do: Paves the way for legislators to craft a policy about the use of butane to make concentrated cannabis products.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 17

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov


DETAILS TO COME…

Assembly Bill 948

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland

What it would do: Paves the way for legislators to craft a policy about marijuana. No further details are yet available.

Where it stands: Introduced Feb. 16; may be heard in committee March 19

Read the full bill and track it: leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Staff writers Will Houston and Lisa M. Krieger contributed to this report.