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California delves into details of regulating recreational marijuana

Prop. 64 was 62 pages long. And it combined elements of three lengthy bills approved in 2015 to start to overhaul California’s loosely regulated medical marijuana program. But state leaders say there are still too many conflicts between those two systems, too many loopholes left open, too many protections missing and too many details left vague. That’s where “clean-up legislation” comes into play. With the state aiming to issue licenses for both medical and recreational marijuana businesses by Jan. 1, 2018, expect much more of it to come over the next 11 months. Here’s a roundup of key cannabis-related legislation now pending before the California Senate and Assembly.

Assembly Bill 238

Who’s behind it: Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga What it would do: Make it illegal for anyone with a state license to distribute marijuana – transporting it from growers and manufacturers to retailers – to turn someone down for a job because they aren’t part of a union. The bill also states entrepreneurs applying for a business license can’t be denied simply because they employ people who aren’t unionized. The bill is aimed at preventing groups like the Teamsters, who represent much of the trucking world, from getting a monopoly on the industry, according to Brandon Ebeck, legislative director for Steinorth. The Teamsters initially opposed Prop. 64, donating $25,000 to fight the initiative. But they soon changed their tune and opted to remain neutral, with one leader saying they were optimistic they could lobby legislators after the bill was passed to give their members a place in the regulated market. Where it stands: Introduced Jan. 30; may be heard in committee March 2 Read the full bill and track - - - - -

Senate Bill 148, a.k.a. the “Cannabis Safe Payment Act”

Who’s behind it: Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, with support from Board of Equalization Chair Fiona Ma What it would do: Allow cannabis businesses to pay state taxes and fees in cash at multiple designated locations throughout the state, including county offices. Major banks and credit card companies still won’t service the industry since marijuana remains federally illegal. Cannabis business owners are then left dealing largely in cash, which means they often have to travel long distances carrying that cash to make payments to the Board of Equalization and other state agencies. Under this bill, counties could opt to collect payments and forward them along to the appropriate state agency. And it would let the state tax collector also accept payments for other state agencies, expanding options for where business owners can settle their bills. “We need to make it as easy and safe as possible for cannabis business owners to pay their taxes and fees, and we should not force them to drive hundreds of miles with a trunkful of cash just to comply with the law,” Wiener said in a statement. Where it stands: Introduced Jan. 17; referred to the Committee on Governance and Finance Read the full bill and track - - - - -

Read the full breakdown on The Cannabist

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