Legislative Hearings on Cannabis

This week two Senate Committees held cannabis related hearings.  The Senate Governance and Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Mike McGuire (D-San Rafael), convened on Tuesday to mainly discuss compliance issues with industry and law enforcement as well as issues about the administration of cannabis taxes statewide.  Arguably, the star of the hearing, however, was an appearance by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who discussed Colorado’s experience in legalizing cannabis use for adults.  Of interest to local health departments, he noted Colorado did not see a spike in teenage use of cannabis nor a dramatic increase in adult consumption.  Governor Hickenlooper also mentioned that they ensured that some of their tax revenues were directed to significant youth prevention efforts.

On Thursday, the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee, chaired by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), held a nearly three-hour oversight hearing to discuss the potential revenues generated by legalized cannabis and what potential community impacts could be.  Senators had many questions for the Department of Finance, Legislative Analyst Office representatives and one of the Prop 64 initiative drafting attorneys about how revenues could be collected and how they may be apportioned out.  A second panel focused on the social justice aspects of Prop 64 including the decriminalization of certain cannabis offenses and the investment of Prop 64 revenues directed to the Community Reinvestments grant program, which is envisioned to support job placement, mental health treatment, SUD treatment, and other services for communities “disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies.”