May 26, 2021 | Written By: An-Chi Tsou, PhD

May brought a rush of activity for cannabis policy in Sacramento. The Administration published its May revision of the Governor’s Proposed Budget, the state Cannabis Advisory Committee met several times, and the Appropriations Committees in both houses of the Legislature held their notorious suspense hearings, during which several bills were killed or forced to be two-year bills. The next month will be critical for the Legislature as they deal with not only an extraordinary $75.7 billion budget surplus, but also a new restriction on lawmakers – imposed by the Assembly Speaker and Senate President pro Tempore – that prohibits each legislator from having more than 12 bills pass to the opposite house. The reason for the limitation is unclear but it may be an effort to control the policy ambitions of legislators (and therefore the state’s workload) given the massive budget surplus. This will likely not impact all legislators, as some prefer to focus on a smaller bill package and others already had several bills die in the legislative process. However, others will need to prioritize issues that they would like to work on this year versus waiting until 2022. Two cannabis-related bills that are still alive and may need to fight for a shot in the second house this year are SB 519 (Wiener) on hallucinogenic substances, and SB 59 (Caballero) on provisional licenses.

Other bills that survived the suspense file included SB 235 (Allen) and AB 45 (Aguiar-Curry) on industrial hemp, AB 1138 (Rubio) on penalties for unlawful cannabis activity, and SB 544 (Laird) on testing. Bills that focused on delivery limits (AB 1014) and market expansion and taxes (SB 398) were made into two-year bills. But remember, even though some bills were officially held indefinitely or until 2022, that does not mean those issues are done for the year. It is still possible for legislators to incorporate various policies into the budget, so there may still be some hope for proponents of such issues. As a result, it will be important to keep eyes on the budget proceedings in the next few weeks as legislators work to come to a decision on how to allocate the state’s wealth.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.

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