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2023 California Cannabis Law Changes: What You Need to Know

Ben Pennstrom
- October 26, 2023

Author's Note: The information provided in this article is based on content from a DCC newsletter email. We have strived to present the information accurately and in a way that adds value to our readers while acknowledging the source. We do not claim ownership of the original text, and any credit for the content's accuracy and reliability goes to the DCC. For official and up-to-date information on the bills mentioned, we encourage readers to refer to the DCC's official communications and publications. If you have any concerns or inquiries about the use of this content, please contact the DCC directly.

To read the full bill text, click the bill numbers below or visit

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a series of significant cannabis bills into law. These bills address various aspects of cannabis regulation, ranging from THC testing to the establishment of cannabis task forces. Below, we provide detailed descriptions of each of these bills to help you understand their implications and significance in the evolving landscape of California's cannabis industry.

AB 623 (Chen): THC Testing and Variances

Assemblymember Chen introduced AB 623, a bill that centers on regulating THC testing variances for edible cannabis products that contain less than five milligrams of THC. The bill mandates the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) to establish specific regulations aimed at adjusting testing variances for such products. The primary objective of this legislation is to ensure that testing requirements for low-THC edible cannabis products align with industry standards and are appropriate for consumer safety.

AB 993 (Rubio): Cannabis Task Force

AB 993, proposed by Assemblymember Rubio, is focused on the expansion of the Cannabis Regulations Task Force. This expansion encompasses representatives from the Civil Rights Department and Department of Industrial Relations. The bill's purpose is to enhance collaboration and regulatory oversight within the cannabis industry by involving additional stakeholders. By including experts from the Civil Rights Department and Department of Industrial Relations, California aims to promote fairness and inclusivity in its cannabis regulations.

AB 1126 (Lackey): Cannabis: Citation and Fine

Sponsored by Assemblymember Lackey, AB 1126 addresses issues related to the use of the universal cannabis symbol in connection with commercial activity. It deems it a violation for any person to use or possess any package, label, advertisement, or other items bearing the universal cannabis symbol in connection with commercial activity that is not licensed commercial cannabis activity. The legislation also specifies that prohibited items could be seized as contraband, emphasizing the importance of ensuring proper usage of this symbol within the industry.

AB 1171 (Rubio): Cannabis: Private Right of Action

AB 1171, introduced by Assemblymember Rubio, centers on the concept of private right of action in the cannabis industry. It empowers cannabis licensees to initiate legal action in superior court against illegal cannabis operators. Licensees are allowed to seek compensation if they can demonstrate harm resulting from unlicensed activity. Furthermore, the bill grants the court the authority to issue orders to enjoin individuals from engaging in unlicensed cannabis activity. This legislation aims to provide a legal recourse for licensed cannabis businesses impacted by unlicensed competition.

AB 1448 (Wallis): Cannabis: Enforcement by Local Jurisdictions

Assemblymember Wallis proposed AB 1448 to address the allocation of civil penalties in cannabis enforcement actions. This bill redirects a portion of civil penalties recovered in enforcement actions initiated by cities or counties away from the General Fund. Instead, it directs these funds to the treasurer of the specific city or county involved in the enforcement action. The legislation's intent is to ensure that the financial penalties associated with cannabis-related violations are channeled back into local jurisdictions, supporting their efforts in cannabis regulation and enforcement.

AB 1684 (Maienschein): Local Ordinances: Cannabis Fines and Penalties

Sponsored by Assemblymember Maienschein, AB 1684 deals with the enforcement of local ordinances related to cannabis fines and penalties. The bill grants local agencies the authority to create ordinances that impose fines for unlicensed cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, processing, distribution, or sale. Notably, these fines are imposed on the owners and operators of businesses engaged in unlawful cannabis-related activities. Additionally, this bill enables referrals to the Attorney General for further action if necessary, providing a mechanism for enforcing local cannabis regulations.

SB 51 (Bradford): Cannabis Provisional Licenses: Local Equity Applicants

SB 51, introduced by Senator Bradford, centers on cannabis provisional licenses for local equity applicants. The bill allows qualifying local equity applicants engaged in retail activities to apply for provisional licenses, which are available until January 1, 2031. It also mandates the Department of Cannabis Control to submit a report to the Legislature by January 1, 2030. This legislation is designed to promote equity in the cannabis industry by providing provisional licensing opportunities to underrepresented communities.

SB 302 (Stern): Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act

SB 302, sponsored by Senator Stern, addresses the Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act, often referred to as Ryan's Law. This bill seeks to update the act, allowing specified types of health care facilities to permit terminally ill patients to use medicinal cannabis within the health care facility, subject to certain restrictions. Notably, SB 302 expands the definition of health care facility to include a home health agency. This expansion enhances access to medical cannabis for patients in need, including those in home health care settings.

SB 540 (Laird): Cannabis and Cannabis Products: Health Warnings

Introduced by Senator Laird, SB 540 is focused on cannabis and cannabis product health warnings. It mandates the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), in consultation with the Department of Public Health, to create a brochure that provides guidance on safer cannabis use. The bill also requires, starting from March 1, 2025, retailers and microbusinesses selling or delivering cannabis or cannabis products to prominently display the brochure. Additionally, SB 540 mandates the DCC to evaluate its regulations on label warnings by July 1, 2025, to determine if additional warnings are necessary. The brochure and label warning regulations must be reevaluated every five years, adapting to evolving scientific knowledge.

SB 622 (Allen): Cannabis Regulation: Plant Identification Program: Unique Identifier

SB 622, proposed by Senator Allen, focuses on cannabis regulation, specifically the implementation of a plant identification program with unique identifiers. The bill updates existing law to require that unique identifiers be recorded for cannabis plants in a manner determined by the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). By implementing this plant identification program, California aims to enhance tracking and oversight within the cannabis industry, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

SB 700 (Bradford): Employment Discrimination: Cannabis Abuse

Sponsored by Senator Bradford, SB 700 addresses employment discrimination related to cannabis use. The bill makes it unlawful for employers to request information from job applicants concerning their prior use of cannabis. This legislation is designed to protect job applicants from discrimination based on their prior cannabis use and promote fair employment practices within the state.

SB 753 (Caballero): Cannabis: Water Resources

SB 753, introduced by Senator Caballero, focuses on the conservation of water resources in the context of cannabis cultivation. The bill makes it a crime for individuals 18 years of age or older to plant, cultivate, harvest, dry, or process more than 50 living cannabis plants or any part thereof, with certain exceptions. Penalties for violations include imprisonment, fines, or felony charges under specified conditions. The bill also considers offenses related to pesticide use, unauthorized water extraction, and groundwater use.

SB 756 (Laird): Water: Inspection: Administrative Procedure: Notice: Service

Senator Laird's SB 756 addresses water resource control and administrative procedures. This legislation authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board to conduct investigations and proceedings concerning the use of water. The Board is given authority to inspect the property of any person or entity to ensure specific requirements are met. Notably, the Board is also empowered to inspect unlicensed cannabis cultivation sites. Furthermore, the Board is authorized to issue complaints and cease and desist orders to any person or entity found to be in violation of the law, using various methods of delivery. SB 756 aims to strengthen water resource control, particularly in the context of cannabis cultivation.

SB 833 (McGuire): Cannabis Licensing: Cultivation Licenses: Changing License Type: Inactive

SB 833, introduced by Senator McGuire, deals with cannabis licensing and cultivation licenses. This bill grants the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) until March 1, 2024, to provide licensed cultivators with the ability to temporarily or permanently reduce the canopy size of their license type at the time of their license renewal. It also allows for placing the license on inactive status. Cultivation licensees are given a one-time opportunity to change their license renewal date, helping align their license year with seasonal growing practices. SB 833 is designed to offer greater flexibility to cultivators and support the alignment of their operations with seasonal and environmental considerations.

Vetoed Legislation:

AB 374 (Haney): Cannabis: Retail Preparation, Sale and Consumption of Noncannabis Food and Beverage Products

AB 374, sponsored by Assemblymember Haney, was a bill focused on cannabis-related retail activities and the preparation, sale, and consumption of noncannabis food and beverage products. This legislation would have authorized, contingent upon local jurisdiction approval, cannabis consumption lounge operators to prepare and sell onsite nonalcoholic, noncannabis-infused food and beverages. It would have also allowed for hosting live events and the sale of tickets to those events. Additionally, the bill aimed to extend local authority to permit the sale of prepackaged, noncannabis-infused, nonalcoholic food and beverage products by any cannabis retailer, whether storefront or delivery-based. Licensed retailers or microbusinesses would have been prohibited from preparing or selling hemp or any products containing hemp to consumers. These items would have had to be stored and displayed separately from cannabis products on licensed premises. AB 374 was aimed at expanding the options for consumers and promoting a regulated, safe environment for the consumption of cannabis.

AB 1207 (Irwin): Cannabis: Labeling and Advertising

AB 1207, introduced by Assemblymember Irwin, primarily focused on cannabis labeling and advertising. The bill aimed to define the term "attractive to children" to include specific images and words, as outlined in the legislation. Additionally, it would have expressly prohibited the manufacture, distribution, and sale of cannabis or cannabis products that were deemed "attractive to children." The objective of AB 1207 was to establish clear guidelines and restrictions on the marketing and labeling of cannabis products to ensure they did not appeal to minors, further promoting responsible consumption and public safety.

Both AB 374 and AB 1207, while not signed into law, highlighted important considerations in the regulation of the cannabis industry, including responsible consumption and child safety. These bills, although vetoed, reflect ongoing efforts to strike a balance between the growing cannabis market and public health and safety concerns.