There are important hearings in California and Colorado this week, arguing everything from smaller issues like a bill allowing cannabis businesses to deduct business expenses while calculating their personal income tax, to larger issues, like re-sentencing past cannabis convictions. Let’s take a look at what is going before the courts this week.
It seems like there is almost always some sort of marijuana legislation before the courts in California, and this week is no different. Three of them are pretty big.
Let’s start with AB 1996, which looks to establish the California Cannabis Research Program. “The bill would authorize the program to cultivate cannabis for its use in research, as specified. The bill would expand the purview of the program to include the study of naturally occurring constituents of cannabis and synthetic compounds that have effects similar to naturally occurring cannabinoids and would also authorize the controlled clinical trials to focus on examining testing methods for detecting harmful contaminants in cannabis, including mold and bacteria.” In non-legal-speak, the California Cannabis Research Program would allow for studies looking at the general safety and effectiveness of medical cannabis, and, if said effects are found beneficial, it would develop guidelines for the appropriate administration and use of medical marijuana.
Another important law before the courts this week is AB 1793. This is the bill referenced earlier, that would require the state’s Justice Department to review the records of Californians that have been convicted of cannabis-related charges, and would make those penalties be reduced or dismissed altogether, unless challenged by a prosecutor. This could be a huge win for civil liberties organizations, and obviously a huge win for all of those incarcerated for a substance that is now legal.
One of the bills up for a vote this week has less to do with state regulations, and is less of a law as it is a political move. AJR 28 is a pretty simple bill: “This measure would urge the Congress and the President to pass legislation that would allow financial institutions to provide services to the cannabis industry.” Basically, California want’s Trump to sign off on a measure that would allow Wall Street to open their coffers and invest in the cannabis industry. This has been a huge stumbling bock so far. While the industry is charging ahead at 100 miles an hour, there is billions in funding that is sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the stigma of the industry to fade in the eyes of the Fed and the investing community at large.
Those three bills together would be a huge step forward for the cannabis industry. There are also smaller, but still important, bills up for a vote this week, like AB 2721, that would allow testing laboratories to receive and test samples of cannabis or cannabis products grown by an adult for personal use. There is also AB 2799, that would create a state-mandated Cal-OSHA training program for the cannabis industry. This would make it so any application for a state license under the The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act provides proof that they’ll hire a Cal-OSHA certified trainer. And, finally, there is AB 1863, the previously mentioned legislation that would allow for state-compliant cultivation businesses to deduct business expenses while calculating their personal income tax.
There isn’t much on the docket for the Colorado courts, but there are two new bills up for a vote. First there is HB 1295, a bill that would alter the Colorado Food and Drug act to establish that food, cosmetics, drugs, and devices—as defined in the act—are not “adulterated” or “misbranded” if they contain industrial hemp. Additionally, the bill defines “industrial hemp” and “industrial hemp food product,” and establishes the Department of Public Health and Environment’s powers to regulate the wholesale food selling, manufacturing, processing, or storage of an industrial hemp food product.
Next up is HB 1422, which would require recreational and medical marijuana testing facilities to be accredited pursuant to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. This establishes that the regulation of medical and recreational cannabis, and the testing of these substances, is a statewide concern.
One thing that is important to keep in mind when it comes to cannabis legislation is you have to see the forest through the trees. Individually these bills are important, but not ground breaking. A tax deduction here, an OSHA regulation there. However when taken as a whole, they represent a ground-swell in legislative measures being introduced that are regulating and legitimizing the cannabis industry and building the foundation for a fully-legal industry in the future.