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The Week(s) Ahead: California Legislature Reconvenes on August 6. Marijuana Legislation Is a High Priority.

The Week Ahead is Monterey Bud’s weekly column focusing down on the most pressing cannabis policies, issues and discussions. Every Monday, Monterey Bud brings his voice to comment on the marijuana industry and the politics of cannabis from the perspective of a weed apostle. This week, Monterey prepares us for California’s upcoming legislative schedule.

When California’s legislature reconvenes on Aug. 6, 2018, the Senate Appropriations Committee will be buzzing with legislative activity. At 10 a.m. in the John L. Burton Hearing Room in the Capitol in Sacramento, the committee will debate 17 pieces of legislation that address a wide range of issues for the state’s newest industry and set the legislative tone as California finishes out its first recreational year. Back from summer recess, all eyes will be on California’s lawmakers as they aim to create a high functioning and equitable industry in the sixth largest economy in the world.

Here are the bills The Week Ahead highlights five of the most important pieces of legislations being discussed the second week of August.

1. Cannabis convictions and resentencing

AB 1793 addresses the resentencing of past cannabis convictions. The legislation proposes for the state’s Justice Department be required to review the records of Californians convicted of cannabis-related charges and reduce or dismiss penalties unless challenged by a prosecutor. The proposed bill was scheduled to receive a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee in State Capitol Room 4203.

Offering a fresh start for those busted under California’s old marijuana laws, the bill would place the burden of expungement of past offenses eliminated by Proposition 64 on the courts. A matter of real justice and increased opportunities, the passage of AB 1793 would cultivate greater employment and housing opportunities for thousands with past convictions. Seemingly a no-brainer, many hope this bill will ultimately pass – myself included.

2. The California Cannabis Research Program

AB 1996 seeks to establish the California Cannabis Research Program. The program would develop and allow for studies intended to ascertain the general safety and efficacy of medical cannabis and, if found valuable, would develop medical guidelines for the appropriate administration and use of medical marijuana.

Through programs like these, researchers will help discover and validate the ultimate potential and best applications of medicinal cannabis. A potential problem for big pharma’s bottom line, greater research into the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes could be critical to finding less addictive pain medication. In my opinion, the more research the better; pass it.

3.  Temporary Event Licenses

AB 2020 proposes amending The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act of 2016 to authorize a state licensing authority to issue a temporary state event license. The licensee would authorize onsite cannabis sales to individuals ages 21 and older at a county fair or district agricultural event.

Beer is legally sold at county fairs and special events throughout the Golden State – and this bill seeks state authorization for the marijuana industry to do the same. Prone to cause the munchies an introspection, rather than spousal arguments and fights, I believe this is another piece of legislation that makes for a progressive step forward.

4. Veterinarians Would Continue to be Prohibited From Recommending Cannabis to Animal Patients

AB 2215  prohibits prescribing, administering, dispensing, or furnishing a controlled substance to or for any human or animal. The Veterinary Medicine Practice Act provides licensing for veterinarians and regulates veterinary medicine practices the Veterinary Medical Board. This bill would prohibit a licensed veterinarian from recommending or administering cannabis to an animal patient.

Without the prerequisite scientific research to substantiate the medicinal efficacy of cannabis for animals, AB 2215 establishes the continued prohibition of prescribing marijuana for Fido or Mittens. While I obviously support medical marijuana for humans, I understand this trepidation. Our pets are like kids, and no one wants to see them hurt. Pass AB 2215, then, after the research is there… come back and re-address the issue.

5. Cannabis Transportation Regulation and Protection

AB 2255 would prohibit licensed distributors from transporting any amount of cannabis that exceeds the amount stated on the shipping manifest. The bill would impose a fine of $500 for the first violation and increasing by $50 increments for each subsequent violation. Also, the bill would prohibit law enforcement from seizing cannabis in transport, unless officers have probable cause that can prove a criminal violation has occurred. AB 2255 passed the Assembly with a vote of 78-0.

Like most commodities being transported on California’s highways and byways – your marijuana manifest must match your inventory on hand, according to the legislation. And providing a valuable legal shield from illegal seizure, the bill  would make it illegal for the police to seize properly documented cannabis during transportation. On the basis of that last one alone, it sounds like a “Pass” to me.

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