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California’s New Cannabis Bills

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California Governor Jerry Brown signed three progressive cannabis bills last week. The first was the Cannabis Equity Act, which addressed the disproportionate harm that the war on drugs caused minorities. It states that many people of color in lower-income areas were inordinately criminalized for nonviolent cannabis offenses, leaving many of their lives in shambles. In an attempt to ease the pain, the bill grants minorities the ability to more easily navigate the world of cannabis entrepreneurship, taking away hurdles by waiving license fees, giving loans to fledgling businesses, and providing technical assistance when needed. The bill funded such assistance programs with a whopping $10 million.

Many hope that this bill will help the Californian cannabis market live up to the spirit of Proposition 64, which initially legalized cannabis sales in the state. The original goal was to establish an inclusive and open market, one that was representative of the diverse Golden State populace. Leaving unjustly disadvantaged minority groups without aid didn’t seem to live up to the spirit of that bill, so this Cannabis equity Act aims to even the playing field for minorities interested in joining the growing cannabis market.

The second bill will let cities in California host cannabis-themed events. Before it was enacted, these kinds of events would have been illegal unless they were held on county fairgrounds. That may not seem like a problem, but it ended up severely limiting the number of people who could attend them. Moreover, these events would have been excellent for local businesses and the cities’ economies. A great deal of money could be made if cannabis-related businesses set up shop at local events. But instead, a cumbersome and restrictive system was established in which the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) had to create an approval and licensure process for every event that featured cannabis products. Harsh threats to revoke cannabis licensure were sent out to all businesses in an attempt to scare them off from supply any events that were not first approved.

This bill changes all of that. Now, cannabis-themed events are applicable at any venue, though the BCC can deal punishments if any illicit behavior is found to be going on. Event planners will be a must for anyone interested in starting up any kind of pot gathering—there are still plenty of regulations that must be followed, such as those concerning secondhand smoke.

The third bill, rather dryly referred to as Assembly Bill 2215, allows veterinarians to inform patients about marijuana-based treatments for their pets. Previously, the Golden State threatened to revoke the license of any veterinarian (or similar animal clinician) who advised that anyone give their pets cannabis-based products. But now that some research has been conducted, finding that such products can be beneficial at reducing animal anxiety and pain (and it didn’t hurt that cannabis-based pet toys and consumables began trending during the recent CBD trend), so now these discussions can take place legally.

The passing of these progressive bills is yet another reason to see California as a leader in cannabis reform. Other states will no doubt be watching the consequences of these new laws, wondering if they should consider them themselves. Meanwhile, Californian residents will be able to enjoy a few more liberties at the heart of the cannabis craze: minorities will have a better shot at starting cannabis-based businesses, residents can enjoy marijuana-themed events at any venue of their choice, which businesses can attend, and they can even learn about the potential benefits that cannabis-based treatments could offer their pets.

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