2019 was a tumultuous year for California’s cannabis industry, and 2020 will be no different.
Several legal cases and legislative initiatives may reshape the state’s cannabis industry in ways that no one can completely foresee, adding uncertainty to the tenuous new industry. Despite the uncertainty and competition from the illicit market, there are still plenty of entrepreneurial opportunities. However, seizing them is not without risk.
To mitigate these risks, anyone seeking to start a cannabis business should consult a lawyer who is at the forefront of California cannabis law and regulations. At McElfresh Law, we have considerable experience helping San Diego cannabis businesses on the path to success.
To schedule a consultation, call us today at (858) 756-7107.
New 2020 California Cannabis Laws Going Into Effect
On January 1, 2020, three new cannabis laws went into effect. The most significant is Assembly Bill 37, which will finally allow cannabis businesses to deduct their business expenses. This will allow your business to save on its tax bills just like any other business.
However, not all the new laws benefit the industry. Assembly Bill 1810 prohibits passengers in limousines, taxis, or any other commercial vehicle from consuming cannabis. This effectively rules out the possibility of operating “party buses” that serve marijuana.
Party buses that serve alcohol, on the other hand, are still allowed to operate despite the fact that a passenger’s drinking involves the same, if not greater, risks than the consumption of marijuana.
Other 2020 Cannabis Issues Being Considered
Additionally, the state legislature is likely to consider and pass other cannabis-related issues during its sessions this year. In response to the significant number of people who died or fell ill as a result of vaping, both state and federal rules will likely target manufacturers of vaping liquids and accessories.
Cannabis advocates are also pushing for the legislature to require all municipalities that voted in favor of Proposition 64 to allow adult-use cannabis businesses to operate within their jurisdiction. The industry is also lobbying for a reform of California’s complicated marijuana tax structure. But it’s too early to tell whether these ambitious initiatives are gaining any momentum.
One of the most important legal changes of 2020 may not come from the legislature, but will result from a court decision. Several California cities and Santa Cruz County have sued the Bureau of Cannabis Control because state regulations allow cannabis deliveries anywhere in the state–including municipalities that ban adult-use businesses. The case will be decided in April, and regardless of the outcome, the losing party will probably file an immediate appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Is the Federal Stance on Cannabis Shifting?
Although many states have granted their citizens at least limited access to cannabis, the federal government’s laws strictly ban the plant. It remains categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance, alongside heroin and other substances that purportedly have no accepted medical or therapeutic use.
Politicians from both sides can no longer ignore that this classification goes against reason and the weight of the evidence.
In November 2019, the House Judiciary Committee approved the MORE Act, which would abolish the federal prohibition of cannabis and pave the way for a nationwide market. Although this bill is not likely to pass both houses, the fact that it was approved is already a significant step.
Another bill, the SAFE Banking Act, is much more likely to pass this year. It would allow state licensed cannabis businesses to deposit funds in federally insured banks, which will provide a much needed boost to regional cannabis industries.
Speak With a San Diego Cannabis Lawyer
At McElfresh Law, we are closely following any federal and state laws that could affect our clients’ businesses. As the legal landscape evolves over the next few years, regular consultations with a California cannabis business lawyer will ensure that your business remains compliant, and that you can take advantage of any regulatory changes that could benefit you. To schedule your consultation, call (858) 756-7107 today.