At the California Senate, Four Cannabis Bills Move Forward

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Without much fanfare, four cannabis-related bills gained ground during a hearing in the California Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

The committee, which weighs in on bills with potentially significant fiscal impact, determined to have the measures placed in the Suspense File, meaning that they will be further evaluated and then subject to a vote-only hearing prior to being reported to the Senate Floor.  

One of the advancing bills is SB 581, which pushes for increased transparency in the cannabis industry by requiring licensing authorities to post information regarding applicants or licensees on their websites, including specified disciplinary actions taken against them.

Another bill that moved forward is SB 627, which would require the Veterinary Medical Board to issue guidelines on the appropriate use of medical cannabis for animal patients and authorize veterinarians to recommend it. Notably, the bill would also bar veterinarians from advertising that they offer medical cannabis recommendations, as well as prohibit them from recommending products if they are “employed by, or has an agreement with, a person or entity dispensing medicinal cannabis or medicinal cannabis products.”

Marked with “urgency” by the committee, SB 51, which would provide for the licensure and regulation of limited charter banks and credit unions for California’s cannabis industry also moved forward, as did SB 658, a bill co-developed by the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation that will guarantee local regulators access to the state’s Track and Trace program and establish a statewide emblem program for retail businesses.

During a Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee hearing last month, the department’s executive director, Cat Packer, testified on behalf of the bill, saying: “The city of Los Angeles is one of the largest cannabis markets in the world. Here in California, we are an integral part of the cannabis market and, as such, the success of the California program is very much interdependent with the success of local regulatory programs.”

“Currently,” she added, “individuals can maybe check online or have to go into a physical location in order to determine if a business is licensed. In order for the legal market to be successful, consumers must be both aware of the location of licensed facilities and aware of the risks and benefits associated with buying from legal or illegal cannabis stores. Furthermore, regulators must be aware of how and what products are moving in and through their local communities.”

If the bills get through the Senate floor, they will then move on the state Assembly. The final hurdle will be Governor Gavin Newsom, who will have until October 13 to either veto the bills or sign them into law.

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