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When recreational cannabis was approved by California voters in 2016 through Proposition 64, medical and recreational marijuana advocates rejoiced. Decriminalizing cannabis would mean reduced penalties for cannabis offenses and increased access to the potential medical benefits of THC and CBD, which are both found naturally in cannabis.
However, there is more work to be done and California has passed two new laws that will affect the cannabis industry.
The cannabis industry is regulated under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which sets standards for everything from the cultivation and testing to the sale and use of the recreational drug.
Assembly Bill 1793, submitted by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, makes an adjustment to the current legislation. This bill speeds up the process of identification, review, and notification of individuals who may be eligible for the dismissal of cannabis-related convictions.
The bill gives the Department of Justice (DOJ) a timeframe to review records and identify past convictions that are eligible for dismissal or re-designation. The bill would require the court to automatically reduce or dismiss those convicted of certain cannabis-related charges by a deadline of July 1, 2020.
Once in effect, the new law will bring about important changes to the criminal justice system, as it could help save law enforcement resources in the future and some argue it could reduce prison overcrowding.
Another change to the AUMA arrives in the form of AB 3067. When Prop 64 was passed, lawmakers wanted to ensure that youth under 21-years-old would be protected from the marketing of cannabis.
Though the AUMA restricted broadcast, cable, radio, print and digital advertising of cannabis to certain audiences, online protections for minors did not include cannabis on the list of products and services, creating a loophole for advertisers to market cannabis products to minors.
On Jan. 1, 2019, a new California law introduced by Assemblyman Ed Chau will go into effect with the aim of closing this loophole for good. AB 3067 will help protect minors from online advertisements of a product which they cannot legally consume.
Basically, AB 3067 adds any cannabis, cannabis product, cannabis business, or any instrument or paraphernalia that is designed for the smoking or ingestion of cannabis to the list of products and services subject to the Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World (PRCMDC).
Lisa Buffo, Founder and CEO of Cannabis Marketing Association, says that this new law mainly clarifies some of the language that was already in effect.
"One significant change is that businesses are not allowed to use depictions or images of anyone under 21. Before, businesses were not allowed to use depictions or images of minors under 18," Buffo says.
Buffo's organization helps educate cannabis marketers on current and future advertising and marketing regulations and connects communications professionals within the cannabis industry. Buffo aims to keep people in the industry informed and, in doing so, close the education gap between cannabis and the consumer.
"There is a large education gap between the industry and the public regarding cannabis," Buffo says. "Speaking to the media and educating the press about what your business is doing is one way to reach an audience."
PRCMDC currently prohibits an operator of a website, online service, online or mobile app directed to minors from marketing or advertising certain cannabis and tobacco products. Operators are also prohibited from knowingly using, disclosing, or compiling, or allowing a third party to use, disclose, or compile the personal information of a minor for the purpose of advertising certain products.
AB 3067 expands these current regulations on privacy for minors, making it harder for advertisers of cannabis and tobacco paraphernalia to reach internet and app users under the age of 21.
The law is ultimately designed to protect minors. For those medical marijuana users who are under the age of 21, there are options to seek different cannabis products.
"If you are under 21 and already have a medical marijuana card and are purchasing cannabis from a licensed business, you can speak with your local budtender about products that may be right for you," Buffo says.
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