California Governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed a proposed bill that would have established a series of mandatory minimum penalties for weed shops that sell cannabis to minors. Brown’s decision comes as law enforcement agencies throughout the state continue cracking down on unlicensed or illegal marijuana businesses.
Gov. Brown Vetoes Bill
Shortly after California voters approved Proposition 64 to legalize recreational weed, Senator Jean Fuller proposed a bill of her own. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Fuller said her bill was aimed at avoiding any problems with dispensaries selling to underage buyers.
In particular, her proposal called for a multi-tiered system of mandatory minimum penalties for any business caught selling to minors.
Her system would have assessed a series of license suspensions based on how many times a shop violated age rules in a three year period:
- 15-day suspension for the first offense
- 25-day suspension for the second offense in three year period
- license revocation for a third offense in a three year period.
The key element to her proposal is that these penalties would be mandatory. But Gov. Brown ultimately vetoed her proposal. In particular, he said there was no need for a system of mandatory penalties.
“This bill is not necessary,” he said. “The Bureau already has the authority to revoke, suspend, and assess fines if a licensee sells to a minor.”
He also reportedly said that mandatory penalties would be too clumsy. In particular, he seemed turned off by the way the proposal would end up limiting the state’s ability to adjudicate individual cases “based on the pertinent facts of a violation.”
California Confronting Illegal Marijuana Businesses
Gov. Brown’s veto comes at an interesting moment in California’s cannabis history. Earlier this year, the state launched full-scale recreational retail.
Then, in July, lawmakers introduced a number of changes to its adult-use laws. Many of these changes made already existing regulations and restrictions much stricter. This includes things like packaging and labeling, product tracking protocols, and a number of other changes.
The changes were relatively controversial among cannabis businesspeople. In particular, many were concerned that the laws would be too restrictive.
Immediately following implementation of the new regs, shops throughout California were forced to get rid of already existing inventory that did not meet the new testing and packaging regulations.
In the midst of all these shifts, state authorities have reported a relatively high level of activity from unlicensed or illegal marijuana businesses.
Many times, businesses are deemed illegal because they operate without proper licensing. In other cases, businesses may have licenses but fail to comply with all state regulations. Alas, authorities in California have been cracking down on such businesses all year long.
For example, officials in Los Angeles alone have already busted 150 businesses. As a result, they have charged more than 500 people for participating in illegal cannabis businesses. In total, the city has filed 120 criminal charges.
In California, businesses caught breaking cannabis laws can be arrested on charges of unlicensed commercial cannabis activity. Such charges can carry up to six months of jail time and fines as high as $1,000.