CSAC Bulletin Article

AENR Seeks Feedback on Cannabis Proposals

April 6, 2023

The Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources (AENR) Policy Committee oversees proposals relating to legislation and regulations impacting counties and their authority over cannabis. Counties have a stake in shaping the broader statewide landscape of cannabis regulation in California as it will undoubtedly have a significant impact on local government operations and serves as an important economic driver in many communities. The success of cannabis programs is dependent on strong state and local partnerships. It is imperative that state agencies recognize the role counties play in the regulation of cannabis and are responsive to local needs.

This year, there are several legislative proposals affecting cannabis regulation. The AENR team is currently soliciting feedback from counties on the following bills:

AB 741 (Jones-Sawyer) The California FAIR Plan Association: cannabis

Assembly Bill 741 would prohibit the California FAIR Plan Association from refusing to issue, canceling, or refusing to renew coverage because the applicant or policyholder possesses or has previously possessed a legal amount of cannabis, concentrated cannabis, or living cannabis plants, or the applicant or policyholder is or has been a commercial cannabis licensee.

The purpose of the FAIR plan is to be the insurer of last resort after all other insurance options are exhausted, and for the lowest income individuals in high-risk areas.

SB 820 (Alvarado-Gil) Cannabis: enforcement: seizure of property

Senate Bill 820 adapts the asset forfeiture provisions currently applicable to unlicensed manufacturing of alcoholic beverages (i.e., moonshining), to cover unlicensed commercial cannabis activities.

Existing law authorizes the seizure of property used in conjunction with the unlicensed manufacture of hard liquor (i.e., moonshining). Unlike drug forfeiture statutes, these laws are adapted to the fact that alcoholic beverages are not inherently unlawful. No criminal conviction is required, and anyone with an interest in the property is given an opportunity to prove in a civil proceeding that the property was not used unlawfully. These laws do not currently apply to unlicensed production of cannabis.

Retail Access Grant Program

As a reminder, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is accepting applications for the newly established Local Retail Access Grant Program. Counties that currently do not have a cannabis retail licensing program, and have plans to develop one, are eligible to receive grant funding. This funding is particularly important as last year the Governor signed in to law SB 1186, which requires all jurisdictions to allow delivery of medicinal cannabis starting January 1, 2024.

The Retail Access Grant Program will make $20 million available to local governments to be used for environmental reviews, permitting expenses, and personnel costs. Funding will be distributed in two phases with awards for the first phase being announced by June 20, 2023. Applications are due by April 28, 2023. More information can be found in the grant guidelines.

For any questions, please contact awaelder@counties.org.

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