California is looking ahead at psychedelic reform, while also continuing to caretake to the ever-evolving cannabis industry.
The Assembly of Appropriations Committee placed four new proposals discussing these related issues—including legalization of psychedelic possession, creation of infrastructure to allow interstate cannabis commerce, prohibition of localities from banning medical cannabis delivery services and imposition of new labeling products for cannabis products—on its suspense file earlier this week.
Should the panel approve the Senate-passed bills next week, they will advance to the Assembly floor.
SB 519 would legalize the possession of certain amounts of psychedelics, including psilocybin and MDMA, by adults over the age of 21. The bill already passed the Senate and moved through two Assembly committees, though it’s been on pause since last year to ensure the sponsor has ample time to build support.
The bill specifically makes “possession, obtaining, giving away, or transportation of, specified quantities of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, mescaline, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), (MDMA) for personal use or facilitated or supported use” lawful for those over the age of 21. There would still be penalties for possession of these substances on school grounds, along with possession of sharing of these substances among people under 21 years of age.
This bill would also require the State Department of Public Health to convene a working group “to research and make recommendations to the Legislature regarding, among other things, the regulation and use of the substances made lawful by this bill.”
If the bill is approved by the Appropriations Committee and it passes in the full chamber, it would need to go back to the Senate for approval of Assembly amendments. Only then would it head to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.
California Bills Move Forward
SB 1186 would “prohibit a local jurisdiction from adopting or enforcing any regulation that prohibits the retail sale by delivery within the local jurisdiction of medicinal cannabis to medicinal cannabis patients or their primary caregivers by medicinal cannabis businesses.” As it stands, more than half of California’s cities and counties don’t allow any cannabis licensees to operate within their regions, creating a challenging regulatory system that many have argued enables the illicit cannabis market.
The bill would enact the Medicinal Cannabis Patients’ Right of Access Act as a means of enforcement. On or after January 1, 2024, the bill would provide that the act “may be enforced by an action for writ of mandate brought by a medicinal cannabis patient or their primary caregiver, a medicinal cannabis business, the Attorney General, or any other party otherwise authorized by law.”
SB 1326 would open the doors for interstate cannabis commerce from California to other legal states, so long as the federal government allows for it through legislation of a Justice Department waiver. The bill would also “prohibit an entity with a commercial cannabis license issued under the laws of another state from engaging in commercial cannabis activity within the boundaries of this state without a state license, or within a local jurisdiction without a license, permit, or other authorization issued by the local jurisdiction.”
The legislation follows a similar measure from two members of Oregon’s congressional delegation, which would also prevent the Justice Department from interfering among states with affirmative agreements for selling cannabis across state lines, though that legislation did not advance.
Rounding out the collection of bill, SB 1097 would require the state Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) to “adopt regulations to require cannabis and cannabis product labels and inserts to include a clear and prominent warning regarding the risks that cannabis use may contribute to mental health problems, in addition to existing labeling requirements.”
California already has labeling requirements for cannabis products, though this legislation would impose new rules. Specifically, it would require the DCC to create and post public pamphlets with “prescribed information, including, among other things, the recommendation that new users start with lower doses and the dangers of purchasing illegally sold cannabis and cannabis products.”
While recent studies have noted the inconsistent labeling of cannabis throughout the U.S., many cannabis industry professionals have voiced that this bill may be an unnecessary addition.
Of course, this group of new bills is just a taste of what Californians, and Americans as a whole, can expect to see as these separate industries continue to take shape. With a number of cannabis and psychedelic initiatives on ballots across the country this Midterm Season, both industries could very well look immensely different, and more robust, over the coming years.