It is widely known that California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law (and also rejected) a flurry of bills in recent weeks.  But what has been done in the cannabis space?  So glad you asked, because, indeed, Newsom has signed several bills impacting the cannabis industry, reflecting a focus on encouraging minority participation, encouraging union membership, and clarifying select existing regulations.

How is this accomplished?

For starters, Senate Bill (SB) 595, which provides some relief from licensing fees for needs-based applicants, is meant to facilitate minority owned businesses.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1529, an urgency statute co-sponsored by the California Cannabis Industry Association, modifies the labeling requirements on vaporizer cartridges.  It facilitates compliance with the requirements by making some practical modifications to the labeling specifications.

AB 1291, which requires a labor peace agreement for all businesses with 20 or more employees, is designed to facilitate union protections for cannabis industry workers, as well as protections from strikes and other disruption for businesses.  The new law provides “teeth,” imposing strict timelines under threat of loss of marijuana business license.  “Unions were a big part of the legalization push in California and several other states, giving them leverage to push for peace agreement requirements,”  Seyfarth Shaw attorney Jinouth Vasquez Santos is quoted as saying in Law 360.  It will be interesting to see how, in light of AB 5’s near prohibition of independent contractors in California, businesses might try to avoid hiring “employees.”

AB 858 clarifies requirements for “specialty cottage” growers.

Finally, SB 34 allows retailers to provide free products to qualifying medical patients, a practice that was common until the 2018 regulations went into effect.