California governor inks signature on cannabis regulatory overhaul bill

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The lifespan of California’s provisional cannabis licensing program has been extended, thanks to the approval of Assembly Bill 141. Moving forwards, provisional permit renewals will be available until Jan. 1, 2025.

Signed into effect by Governor Gavin Newsom on July 12, the measure nicknamed the “governor’s trailer bill” seeks to develop the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC).

Specifically, California’s cannabis regulatory overhaul bill aims to eliminate the complexities associated with regulatory oversight for the state’s legal weed market, which has been active since 2018.

Moreover, AB 141 will allow businesses to trade free cannabis product samples, as well as simplify the licensing process for business owners who are keen to participate in the $5.6 billion market.

Although AB 141 addresses a number of regulatory hurdles that previously stunted the growth of California’s cannabis market, some experts believe that the measure is not sufficient to stabilize the ever-growing industry. Lawmakers are anticipated to deal with those concerns at some point during the month of August.

California’s cannabis regulatory overhaul bill: What is the DCC’S role?

Based on the legal language contained in AB 141, the DCC will be tasked with consolidating regulatory, licensing and enforcement duties that were previously dealt with by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis division and Department of Public Health’s Cannabis Manufacturing branch. The newly-formed Department will reside within the BCSH Agency.

“The state’s consolidation effort delivers on the commitment made by the Newsom Administration to listen to and work with California’s legal cannabis industry to streamline participation in the legal market by offering a central point of contact for licensed operators,” said the secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing (BCSH) Agency, Lourdes Castro Ramirez, in an official statement.

In addition to the above-mentioned duties, the DCC – according to California’s cannabis regulatory overhaul bill – will oversee the state’s track-and-trace system. Something that will not change under the terms of AB 141, however, is the central online hub for all things cannabis-related. 

Information pertaining to the state’s cannabis laws, regulations and licensing authorities (as previously featured on the California Cannabis Portal) will be transferred to the DCC website. During the migration phase, members of the public may still access all three licensing authorities’ websites.

Numerous other California cannabis bills were introduced in the 2021 California Legislature

During the 2021 legislative session in California, lawmakers put forward around 30 new cannabis measures; in addition to AB 141.

Each proposed law addressed something different, with the main topics of focus being cannabis testing, cannabis billboard advertising, unlicensed activity, state licensing authority consolidation, delivery services, provisional licenses, employee discrimination, local licensing matters, terminally ill patients, administrative penalties, hemp, psychedelic possession (including DMT, MDMA, LSD and psilocybin,) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Highlighted below are some of the stand-out cannabis measures featured during California’s 2021 legislative session:

  • AB 45 and SB 235 – These measures stipulate that cosmetics, food, beverages, dietary supplements and pet food are not adulterated by the inclusion of cannabinoids, extracts, industrial hemp and/or industrial hemp derivatives; so long as these substances adhere to certain requirements.
  • AB 273 – This bill would eliminate an existing reference to cannabis billboard marketing that prohibits advertising on California state highways or interstate highways. Moreover, AB 273 prohibits the visual advertisement of vaporizers, smoking, food, beverages, cannabis plants/leaves and animals.
  • AB 287 Based on the details of this proposal, a three-year statute of limitations would be imposed on civil actions for penalties associated with unlicensed commercial cannabis activity.
  • AB 290 – Lawmakers introduced this bill in the hopes of banishing a rule that requires cannabis or cannabis products to be delivered to a licensed testing laboratory during the final stage of retail packaging.
  • AB 384 – If enacted into law, the Veterinary Medical Board would be forbidden from disciplining a licensed veterinarian who recommends animal cannabis consumption for health supplementation or therapeutic purrposes.

You can view a full list of California’s cannabis proposals by clicking here.