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Week in Review: California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Mixed Verdict on Cannabis

California cannabis bills
PHOTO Konrad

Current Events

Week in Review: California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Mixed Verdict on Cannabis

ICYMI: Catch up on the week’s latest news from across the cannabis spectrum.

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, California governor rejects cannabis cafe and packaging bills, approves others; Federal Appeals Court examines gun rights for medical cannabis patients; New York proposes restrictions on cannabis consumption near children; and Connecticut sets new cannabis sales record with over $25m in September.

California cannabis cafés
PHOTO anaumenko

California Governor Gavin Newsom Rejects Cannabis Cafés and Packaging Bills, Approves Others

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) recently took decisive action on various cannabis-related bills. He rejected a proposal to permit Amsterdam-style cannabis cafés; he also turned down a packaging bill that would have imposed strict design restrictions on cannabis products. On the flip side, several other bills to refine the state’s cannabis regulations, particularly in equity, tracking, testing and licensing, received his approval.

Gov. Newsom’s decision to veto the cannabis café bill (AB 374) reportedly came from concerns about conflicting with The Golden State’s smoke-free workplace policies. Though the bill aimed to enhance business opportunities for cannabis retailers, the governor emphasized the importance of worker health and safety. Assemblymember Matt Haney, who sponsored the bill, defended its intention, suggesting it would support rule-abiding businesses and discourage illegal sales.

The packaging bill Gov. Newsom rejected sought to prevent cannabis products from being enticing to children. This change would involve prohibiting certain imagery, including cartoons or fictional creatures. However, he expressed that the bill’s definition of what’s attractive to children was too encompassing. Instead, he directed the Department of Cannabis Control to enhance existing protections for youth.

In keeping with the state’s pro-environment stance, Gov. Newsom approved a bill promoting environmental sustainability by changing how cannabis plants are tracked to reduce the use of single-use plastic tags. Sen. Allen (D-CA), the bill’s sponsor, praised the move, emphasizing the importance of sustainability in California’s growing cannabis industry.

PHOTO DZiegler

Federal Appeals Court Examines Gun Rights for Medical Cannabis Patients

The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit deliberated on whether medical cannabis patients should be barred from owning or purchasing firearms. This topic has been in the legal limelight for over a year, attracting extensive briefings.

Attorney Will Hall, representing Florida’s medical cannabis patients, presented two central arguments against the federal prohibition. First, he stated that merely committing a crime should not automatically deprive individuals of their Second Amendment rights. Second, he pointed to the Supreme Court’s stance, which suggests that gun restrictions are unconstitutional unless they align with the historical context of the Second Amendment, which dates back to 1791. Hall said disallowing gun rights for medical cannabis users doesn’t adhere to this historical viewpoint.

However, the Justice Department’s perspective was different. While they acknowledged the absence of widespread illegal drugs during the amendment’s inception, they drew parallels between old laws restricting gun rights due to intoxication or mental health concerns and the current prohibition for regular cannabis users.

Supporting Hall’s viewpoint, judges from both the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma and the Western District of Texas ruled earlier this year against the ban on gun possession for cannabis users. The Texas court even extended this ruling to the sale and transfer of firearms.

Connecticut Capitol Building
Connecticut’s Capitol building. PHOTO Grindstone Media Grp

Connecticut Sets Cannabis Sales Record with More Than $25M in September

Connecticut’s cannabis market reached new heights in September, with sales exceeding $25 million, marking a monthly record, according to data from the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP). The month saw a surge in sales and the lowest average prices for cannabis products to date: $38.21 for medical cannabis and a close $38.37 for adult-use use.

The beginning of 2023 recorded the highest price for cannabis products at $44.61, which has consistently declined since. Adult-use cannabis sales contributed $14.3 million and medical sales followed closely at around $11 million. Flower products led the sales with 52%, followed by vape products at 30% and edibles capturing 11% of the market share.

During September, people purchased 376,035 cannabis products, while medical patients procured 284,116 products. For context, the previous record was set in August, matching September’s total sales of $25 million–distributed almost identically with $14 million from adult-use and $11 million from medical sales.

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