Jurisdiction: California

Back in Session: A Look at California’s Latest Cannabis Bills

Though it still feels like summer in balmy Los Angeles, school is back in session and so is the California legislature. From banking reform to labeling, state legislators are set to mull over at least five bills directly impacting the $2.5 billion legal cannabis industry in California, now ranked the fifth largest economy in the world.

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Illicit Market Continues to Stifle California’s Legal Cannabis Market

It’s been nearly two years since California legalized recreational marijuana, and despite promises to curtail the illegal market, California’s black market continues to thrive. In 2018, according to estimates, about 78% of all marijuana sales in California occurred on the black market. That number (and the associated lost revenue for legal marijuana-related businesses and the California treasury) is frightening.

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Shifting Landscape: Marijuana Employment Law Starting to Trend in Favor of Employees

Marijuana-related employment lawsuits are on the rise as more workers who have been fired or denied a job over their marijuana use are utilizing litigation to challenge the decisions. This, in turn, is forcing employers to formulate new strategies to balance the risk of litigation against the possibility of impaired employees hurting someone on the job, damaging the business, or possibly even worse.

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California Senate Passes Bill to Jump Start Cannabis Banking

California is done waiting on the federal government. As the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (“SAFE Banking Act”) remains stymied in the U.S. Senate, California is proceeding with its own banking reform. Specifically, the California Senate recently passed Senate Bill 51 (the “Cannabis Limited Charter Banking and Credit Union Law”), which would allow private banks and credit unions to apply for charters that would explicitly permit them to handle cannabis transactions.

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U.S. Surgeon General Argues States Going “Way Too Far Too Fast” in Legalizing Marijuana

There continues to be a noticeable divide between politicians and medical professionals regarding the legalization of marijuana. We recently wrote about that divide in Missouri, where important medical associations have shunned Missouri’s rather green medical marijuana program. Now, United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams has chimed in with a warning regarding legalization.

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California Passes SB 51 to Create a Non-Federal Banking Alternative for the Cannabis Industry

On May 23, 2019, the California Senate passed Senate Bill 51 (“SB 51”) on a 35-1 vote to establish limited state-chartered banks and credit unions to serve the cannabis industry. The bill, which was introduced by state Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), along with eight other bipartisan cosponsors, allows cannabis businesses to create accounts with certain chartered banks and credit unions for specific cannabis business-related purposes. For instance, cannabis businesses will now be able to deposit funds into these accounts and write “special purpose checks.”

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California Bill Aims to Increase the Number of Cannabis Dispensaries

Earlier this year, California Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced Assembly Bill 1356 (“AB 1356”) in an effort to increase the number of cannabis dispensaries across California. The bill requires any city or county that voted 50% or more in favor of Proposition 64 (the California voter initiative that legalized adult-use cannabis) to issue one cannabis retail license for every six onsite liquor consumption licenses or for every 15,000 residents, whichever is less.

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