By BEN CHRISTOPHER | CALmatters
(CALMATTERS) – Over the weekend, Newsom also signed 10 bills to boost the beleaguered legal cannabis industry.
Among the more attention-grabbing pieces of legislation are bills that prevent employers from punishing workers for using marijuana off-the-clock, require local governments to allow medical dispensaries to deliver cannabis, and fast-track the voiding of old marijuana infractions from criminal records.
Authored by Salinas Democratic Sen. Anna Caballero, the bill would allow Newsom to enter into trade agreements with other states that have legalized recreational use. Supporters say that would provide a release valve for California’s saturated market.
But there’s a catch: The policy can’t go into effect until the attorney general deems that doing so wouldn’t get California in trouble under federal law. It’s unclear what Attorney General Rob Bonta thinks about the idea; his office said it is waiting for a formal request to weigh in.
But cannabis advocates across the country are optimistic.
- Adam Smith, founder of the Oregon Craft Cannabis Alliance: “I see this as a real turning point…We hope and expect this is going to really initiate the conversation nationally.”
This while at least some political observers predict that this year’s midterm elections could radically shift the national politics around marijuana.
It’s fitting that Newsom would be the one to enter into these inter-state arrangements. When California voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, he was the face of that campaign.
This week’s raft of new marijuana laws come at a moment of crisis for California’s legal weed industry. As the Los Angeles Times has been reporting in an ongoing series, the state’s black market continues to thrive, regulated businesses are often unable to compete and the torrent of cannabis cash in some communities has unleashed a wave of political corruption.