Noonan: ‘Let’s Coloradify California’ is the Golden State’s new motto

Author: Paula Noonan - June 14, 2017 - Updated: June 16, 2017

Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Not so long ago, the motto of the state was “Don’t Californicate Colorado!” Today, on the West Coast, the motto is “Let’s Coloradify California!”

California’s 2017 General Assembly has introduced 43 marijuana related bills among its 2,000 plus bill list. The state is set to implement the selling of marijuana in January 2018, according to Proposition 64 passed in November 2016, not to be confused with Colorado’s Amendment 64 passed in 2012.

Perhaps based on Colorado’s experience, the voters of California supported Prop 64 at the ballot 57.13 percent to 42.8 percent. The Golden State also had two decades of experience with medical marijuana that eased legal use with its broad medicinal purposes.

It’s interesting to understand to what degree Colorado’s groundbreaking marijuana regulations have expedited California’s legislative work. It’s also interesting to observe how much content California’s lawmakers can jam into a bill that doesn’t have a one subject rule.

The biggest marijuana bill in California is AB-64, titled “Cannabis: medical and nonmedical.” The bill has 13 elements. Here are the big ones:

The bill restricts advertising and marketing so individuals under 21 won’t be targeted, pot advertising bill boards are not allowed on state and interstate highways and people driving under the influence are distinguished between drunken driving and marijuana impaired.

The bill also says California is going to put sizable chunks of money into researching how to measure cannabis impairment, which should help Colorado with the same problem.

Like Colorado, California will invigorate a marijuana research program called the Center for Cannabis Research through the University of California. A portion of the $1 billion in hoped-for tax dollars will support the investigation of marijuana’s medicinal uses as well as mental health effects and crime.

The state will crack down on illegal marijuana cultivation and sales using legal pot taxes. There will be two taxes: one on marijuana cultivation and one on retail sales. Each has its own licensing. California will exempt legal marijuana businesses from electronically filing their taxes for the same obvious reason as Colorado.

Another bill says that minors cannot be data-mined on the internet with the aim of selling them marijuana.

Colorado passed HB17-1266 to seal misdemeanor marijuana conviction records. California hasn’t taken up that business yet, but AB-1578 prohibits local and state government agencies from cooperating with federal law enforcement over marijuana activities — made legal in California — without a court order. The bill also includes a non-cooperation clause, so when ICE arrests undocumented individuals using legal marijuana, state law enforcement won’t be found anywhere in sight.

Colorado has set the standards on edibles’ packaging and labeling. Growers and retailers have to get their packages and labels approved by California’s state department of public health and pot edibles have to use a pot product symbol. For edibles attractive to youngsters, the packaging must be tamperproof, child resistant and resealable.

California’s wine comes from Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Paso Robles. With pot, a bill states that marijuana enterprises can only use the name of a county on its label if all the marijuana in the product is from that county. Another bill prohibits marketing and advertising marijuana using branded items such as shirts and caps.

Every state has its own personality. Colorado has its skier/boarder attitude. California has its regulatory reputation. One bill requires all pot businesses with over 20 employees to abide by the terms of a labor peace agreement. Another bill says at least one employee at a business has to complete OSHA training.

Finally, for any Coloradan interested in getting into the cannabis industry in California, they best move there now. It will take three continuous years of residency in the state to apply for a pot license.

Paula Noonan

Paula Noonan

Paula Noonan owns Colorado Capitol Watch, the state’s premier legislature tracking platform.