Cannabis industry ally selected by governor as California’s attorney general

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

It’s a cause for celebration in California right now, where the cannabis industry is commemorating Gavin Newsom’s decision to appoint Assemblyman Rob Bonta as state attorney general.

Should Bonta’s position be confirmed, he will take over from President Joe Biden’s initial choice to front the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — Xavier Becerra.

“Bonta has tackled some of the major cannabis issues in the state, advocating for workers, patients and cannabis operators. As California Attorney General, he will be aware of the current problems that face cannabis operators due to the illicit market and will find reasonable solutions,” reads a laudatory news release published by the United Cannabis Business Association.

“We look forward to his continued leadership on cannabis policy in his new role.”

Who is Rob Bonta?

A long-time advocate for cannabis reform, Bonta is an Oakland Democrat who has progressively pushed for policy change among his fellow state lawmakers. The American attorney and politician has been actively serving as the California State Assemblyman for the 18th district since the year 2012.

Back in 2015, he was one of the first authors of California’s statewide medical cannabis regulatory system. He also attempted to reduce California’s cannabis tax rates over a three-year period — from the year 2018 to the year 2020. 

With these things in mind, cannabis industry insiders are hopeful that Bonta will bring a solid effort to the table; once his position has been confirmed. 

“This is an incredibly important office in the cause of, yes, racial justice, social justice, economic justice, environmental justice,” said Newsom, who noted that Bonta “has been on the forefront” of such motives.

California’s legal cannabis market is outshadowed by the black market  

Bonta’s selection still depends on the Legislature confirming Newsom’s choice to grant him the position. The new potential attorney general is expected to excel in the position alongside progressives, many of whom are keen to see the elected AG conduct operations proactively in terms of targeting police and law enforcement officials for misconduct. 

Since Xavier Becerra, the former AG, did not manage to succeed in this respect, Bonta could seriously change the game for California’s cannabis industry. According to estimates, the state’s illegal cannabis market is as much as twice to three times as large as the legal market. 

Licensed operators are being threatened by unlicensed and unregulated sellers, with the vast majority of illicit dealers making their living in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Fortunately, with his positive track record, Bonta is believed to be the perfect man to transform the legal and illegal cannabis market landscape.

“The biggest thing that the attorney general can do is go after the illicit operators,” said the chief financial officer (CFO) of one of California’s biggest dispensaries, Oakland-based Harborside, Tom DiGiovanni. “That’s going to be the biggest help to the [cannabis] industry in California.”