CA Gov. Newsom signs bills to aid state marijuana industry

Sam Albillo/Staff

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a set of marijuana-related bills in the last few weeks easing cannabis restrictions, including a bill that will regulate how marijuana retailers donate products to medicinal users.

This is one of eight bills Newsom signed in the closing weeks of the legislative year that supplement the 2016 ballot initiative Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana for anyone above the age of 21 in California.

“I applaud efforts by our state legislature in working to improve upon our state’s budding recreational cannabis industry,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín said in a statement. “With the governor signing the laws, this will provide clarity for cannabis businesses as they navigate through California’s regulations.”

SB 34, written by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and signed by Newsom on Oct. 12, would allow authorized retail sellers to provide free marijuana or marijuana products to medicinal marijuana patients or the patients’ primary caregiver if they meet specified requirements.

This law intends to regulate the donation of cannabis products to prevent sales on the black market, according to the bill.

AB 1529, written by Assemblymember Evan Low, D-Campbell, requires that vaping products be labeled with the “universal symbol,” according to the bill. This will ensure customers are aware the vaping device contains marijuana, even without the packaging.

Arreguín said in the statement he believes these efforts will help limit the sale of harmful products on the black market, such as vaping devices, which have led to at least 34 deaths and sickened over 1,600 people in the U.S.

“Ultimately, incidents like this show the need for a legalized and regulated market across the country,” Arreguín said in the statement.

Another bill, SB 185, was authored by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and signed by Newsom to establish appellations of origin for marijuana. This means it will require marijuana products to be labeled with the county in which the marijuana was grown.

The bill will expand prohibitions already in place on improperly using county names for cannabis products to include appellation protection based on specific geographic regions and using any similar sounding name of appellations on the product label if applicable.

A state tax deduction bill was also signed by Newsom. Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, authored AB 37, which will allow California marijuana companies to deduct business expenses on state tax returns and provide tax equity to the marijuana industry.

Cannabis businesses have historically not been able to deduct those expenses as a result of Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, and California’s policy that relates to expenditures connected to the sale of illegal drugs.

“These bills align with Berkeley’s values, and will help improve economic and health impacts of cannabis in an equitable way,” Arreguín said in the statement.

Contact Olivia González Britt at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Oliviagbritt.