California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) says he wants marijuana to be federally legalized, in part so his state’s farmers can “legally supply the rest of the nation.”
The governor made the remarks in a video that played at the Oakland International Film Festival in September, where activists screened a documentary about the local history of the marijuana reform movement featuring Newsom.
He thanked advocates for their leadership and for helping to achieve the “important milestone” of legalizing cannabis in California in 2016, which he said still needs to be improved within the state to address “imperfections in the law.” But the governor was also looking forward to federal reform.
“We know, like I said, the fight is not over. We have a lot more work ahead of us — not just here in the state, but at the federal level to move forward with decriminalization and end federal prohibition,” he said.
Newsom said federal legalization should “also allow our farmers to legally supply the rest of the nation — that’s critical.”
Unblocking interstate marijuana trade could prove especially lucrative for California, which has an ideal climate for outdoor cultivation that could help meet demand in other states. Newsom took the first preparatory step in anticipation of eventual interstate commerce when he signed a law allowing him to make deals with other legal states.
That ability would be triggered, according to the legislation, once federal law or guidance allows, or if the attorney general certifies in the meantime that the interstate commerce of cannabis “will not result in a significant legal risk” to the state.
In new remarks, the governor emphasized that federal reform should allow farmers to “legally” ship cannabis outside of California. Currently, under federal prohibition, the only commercial export of marijuana that leaves state borders constitutes illegal trafficking. It is hoped that allowing interstate commerce will further help suppress the illicit market by reducing demand for unregulated products and allowing farmers to make a legal living.
Meanwhile, the Newsom administration is separately touting the efforts of the Illegal Cannabis Enforcement Task Force it recently created. The multi-agency effort resulted in the seizure and eradication of $15 million worth of illegal marijuana plants and processed flowers, the state announced last month.
Newsom also said broader federal reform should be accompanied by an expanded effort to “repair the damage that has been done over decades, generations to people, families and communities through this abject failure, this thing called the war on drugs.”
“Similarly, cannabis stocks. That’s the main idea – a concept, by the way, born here, no wonder,” he said. “The future is happening here first and now it’s spreading right across the country and we know it has to continue and we know we have to strengthen it.”
“We must also level the playing field and sustain an industry that is as diverse as our state,” the governor said.
To that end, California officials announced last month that the state will award up to $20 million in marijuana tax-funded grants to universities conducting research on cannabis science and policy — including studies on preventing monopolies in the legal industry and securing genetics. “older” tribes.
The academic funding opportunity was announced just days after California officials announced they would accept another round of grant applications to support local efforts to promote justice in the marijuana industry.
The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) began accepting applications for an earlier round of grants under the program around this time last year, with a total of $35 million available for locations across the state. This year’s funding limit is set at $15 million.
The department separately distributed a round of community reinvestment grants earlier this year totaling $35.5 million with tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana.
GO-Biz announced in July that it has awarded 78 grants to organizations across the state that will support economic and social development in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. The program’s funding volume and number of recipients increased from last year’s level, when the state awarded $29 million in grants to 58 nonprofit organizations through the CalCRG program.
Meanwhile, the state is also taking steps to crack down on more marijuana businesses as it continues to crack down on the illegal market.
California has begun issuing temporary marijuana business licenses as a way to get into the adult-use market more quickly. This temporary license category was set to expire last year, but was extended to give sites more time to complete the permitting process and meet environmental requirements.
Since then, the state has identified a number of jurisdictions that may need additional support to bring these provisional license holders into the traditional annual license category. This license funding is provided by a separate grant program operated by the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC).
Ensuring that localities are able to effectively support a regulated industry is especially important in California, where more than half of the state’s jurisdictions have banned cannabis businesses from operating in their area, helping to keep the illegal trade at bay.
Newsom, along with regulators and lawmakers, have tried to solve the problem through various means.
The governor has signed about a dozen cannabis-reform bills this year, including one that would prevent localities from blocking the supply of medical cannabis, along with measures to protect consumers from employment and seal past convictions.
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The Legislature handed Newsom numerous cannabis bills toward the end of the session, and he acted on most of them in one go last month. The governor said the reforms are necessary to help deliver on the promises of legalization and continue to address the side effects of prohibition.
Newsom has a long record of supporting marijuana reform and supporting the state market, so he is widely expected to sign reform measures delivered to his desk. Despite his record, however, he recently vetoed a key piece of drug reform legislation that would have authorized the state’s safe drug use site pilot program — a move that drew widespread criticism from the harm reduction community.
San Francisco officials have since signaled they are ready to defy the governor and launch an overdose prevention program regardless of the veto.
In another disappointment for reform advocates, the sponsor recently withdrew a separate bill that would have legalized the possession of limited amounts of certain psychedelics after its main provisions were gutted, leaving only part of the study, which advocates say is not unnecessary given the existing body of science . literature on this topic.
Here’s an overview of other recent drug policy developments in California:
In July, California officials awarded more than $1.7 million in grants to help promote sustainable marijuana cultivation practices and help growers obtain their annual licenses. First announced in August 2021, the program will award a total of $6 million and remain open for applications until April 2023.
Regulators also recently announced they are seeking input on proposed rules to standardize the state’s cannabis testing methods — an effort they hope will stop marijuana businesses from “lab shopping” to find devices more likely to show higher THC concentrations that they can. then brag about your products.
Since the state’s adult market began in 2018, California has received nearly $4 billion in marijuana tax revenue, the Department of Taxation and Fee Administration (CDTFA) reported in July. And for the first quarter of 2022, the state saw about $294 million in cannabis revenue generated from excise, cultivation and sales taxes on marijuana.
The state collected about $817 million in adult marijuana tax revenue during the last fiscal year. This represented 55 percent more cannabis earnings to the state coffers than was generated in 2020-2021.
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Photo courtesy of the California State Fair.