California Gov. Gavin Newsom To Review 17 Cannabis, Psychedelics Bills

As of the California State Legislature ended on Sept. 14, more than 17 cannabis or psychedelic bills were sent to California Gov. Gavin Newsom to potentially be signed. The bills include a wide variety of proposals, which Newsom must either sign, veto, or refuse to sign and allow them to be approved without his signature.

In the past, Newsom has expressed support for cannabis and psychedelics, but it is currently unclear which of these 17 bills he will support. However, he has under one month, or until Oct. 14, to address the following bills.

SB-51: Cannabis provisional licenses: local equity applicants

Social equity applicants would be permitted to apply for or renew their provisional licenses between now and January 1, 2031. Currently, provisional licenses are not being accepted in California.

SB-58: Controlled substances: decriminalization of certain hallucinogenic substances.

This bill was passed on to the Gov. on Sept. 13, and would legalize possession, cultivation, and transportation of substances such as psilocybin, psilocyn, DMT, and mescaline. The bill is led by Sen. Scott Weiner, who believes that it will help many patients, especially military veterans, within the state. “California’s veterans, first responders, and others struggling with PTSD, depression, and addiction deserve access to these promising plant medicines,” said Wiener when the bill passed in the Assembly. “SB-58 has prudent safeguards in place after we incorporated feedback from three years of deep engagement with a broad array of stakeholders. We know these substances are not addictive, and they show tremendous promise in treating many of the most intractable conditions driving our nation’s mental health crisis. It’s time to stop criminalizing people who use psychedelics for healing or personal well-being.”

SB-302 Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act

While only terminally ill patients are currently allowed to use medical cannabis at healthcare facilities, this bill would allow anyone over 65 to treat chronic illness with medical cannabis if they choose. The bill is an expansion of the currently existing Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act, or Ryan’s Law.

SB-540: Cannabis and cannabis products: health warnings

If passed, SB-540 would instruct the Department of Cannabis Control to make an education brochure that would be given to consumers when they purchase products from a dispensary for the first time (both at a retail store or upon delivery). The info would be updated on January 1, 2030, and every five years after that date.

SB-622: Cannabis regulation: plant identification program: unique identifier

A proposal from Sen. Ben Allen and Juan Alanis would change how cannabis products are identified with “a unique identifier to be recorded in a manner as determined by the department by regulation.” The bill doesn’t directly mention removing the plastic tags that are currently used to track cannabis plants, but it could allow digital tags to be utilized in the future for a more sustainable, ecofriendly approach.

SB-700: Employment discrimination: cannabis use

This bill would ban employers from inquiring about an applicant’s personal cannabis use, which is added to current applicant protections from the already existing California Fair Employment and Housing Act. According to Sen. Steven Bradford, 

SB-753: Cannabis: water resources

With the preservation of groundwater and environmental harm, this bill would make it a felony to grow and harvest more than six cannabis plants, especially if it is grown “Intentionally or with gross negligence causing substantial environmental harm to surface or groundwater, public lands, or other public resources.”

SB-833: Cannabis licensing: cultivation licenses: changing license type: inactive status

Currently, cannabis cultivators who wish to change their license status to a smaller grow to inactive (whether permanently or just temporarily), must redo the complete process through the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). This bill would allow them to make this change through the DCC without resubmitting their application in its entirety.

AB-374: Cannabis: retail preparation, sale, and consumption of non cannabis food and beverage products

Presented to the governor on Sept. 15, AB-374 would make “Amsterdam-style” cannabis cafes legal. With approval, dispensaries will be able to offer non-cannabis food and drinks, as well as “live musical or other performances on the premises of a licensed retailer or microbusiness in the area where the consumption of cannabis is allowed.” According to the bill sponsor, Assemblymember Matt Haney believes the bill would benefit consumers and also cities. “Lots of people want to enjoy legal cannabis in the company of others,” Haney said. “And many people want to do that while sipping coffee, eating a scone, or listening to music. There’s absolutely no good reason from an economic, health or safety standpoint that the state should make that illegal. If an authorized cannabis retail store wants to also sell a cup of coffee and a sandwich, we should allow cities to make that possible and stop holding back these small businesses.”

AB-623: Cannabis: citation and fine

According to current California law, cannabis laboratory testing is conducted by testing a batch of products to ensure that “the chemical profile of the sample conforms to the labeled content of compounds.” In order for licensed labs to test edibles and issue a certificate of analysis, the report must show “that the milligrams of THC per serving does not exceed 10 milligrams per serving, plus or minus 10%.” In other words, the certificate excludes products with less than 10 mg THC (such as low-dose edibles with only 5 mg THC). If passed, AB-623 would require new DCC regulations that keep low-dose edibles in mind.

AB-993: Cannabis Task Force

This bill would add representatives from the Civil Rights Department and the Department of Industrial Relations, the existing cannabis task force in California.

AB-1021: Controlled substances: rescheduling

This bill would allow California health care professionals to prescribe cannabis if it reschedules any Schedule I substance. Current Schedule I substances include cannabis, as well as LSD, heroin, peyote, ecstasy, and more.

AB-1126: Cannabis: citation and fine

This proposal would ban the use of the universal cannabis symbol on cannabis packaging for products that are not authorized to use it. Any companies using the symbol without approval will be seized by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

AB-1171: Cannabis: private right of action

Legal action would be permissible for cannabis business license owners against illegal cannabis businesses in the California Supreme Court.

AB-1207: Cannabis: labeling and advertising

This bill would potentially alter the definition for cannabis product packaging, by “prohibiting the sale, distribution, or manufacture of cannabis, cannabis products, packaging, or labeling that are attractive to children, as defined.” It further prohibits imagery including cartoons, toys, robots, real or fictional humans, fictional animals or creatures, as well as fruits or vegetables (unless it’s used to describe the flavor of the product).

AB-1448: Cannabis: enforcement by local jurisdictions

A person currently engaging in illegal cannabis without a license is subject to civil penalty funds ($10,000 per day per violation but not to exceed $30,000 per day). This bill would take some of those civil penalty money and move them to treasurers of local jurisdictions.

AB-1684: Local ordinances: fines and penalties: cannabis

In this bill, fines attributed to illegal cannabis cultivators would also apply to other illegal businesses such as processors and distributors.

In the past, Newsom has expressed support for cannabis and psychedelics, but it is currently unclear which of these 17 bills he will sign. However, he has under one month, or until Oct. 14, to address these bills.

Newsom has signed three bills since July that are cannabis-related. In July, he signed SB-250 which provides immunity to people who test positive for a controlled substance, such as fentanyl, specifically in regards to working with law enforcement and sharing where they received the drug. Also in July, Newsom signed AB-128, which added cannabis event organizers to the list of license classifications, and updated requirements for background checks for cannabis-related businesses. He also signed SB-756 on Sept. 1, which allows the California State Water Board to investigate and take action against illegal cannabis cultivation.

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