Down the pike

Illustration by Sarah Hansel

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

What’s going on with the Cali legislature and cannabis? Any good news?

—Willy Wonky

I am glad you asked! There has been a flurry of activity in the Capitol these past few weeks. I have bad news and good news:

The bad: Assembly Bill 2069 (nice), a bill that would have kept cannabis users from losing their jobs just because they failed a drug test (traces of THC remain in the bloodstream even after the effects of the drug have worn off) has been held in committee, so it will not receive a vote this year. Dang it. No one should be fired for off-duty cannabis use. Ever.

AB 3157, the bill to lower the taxes on cannabis, also didn’t make it out of committee. This is a shame. No one wants to pay almost 20 percent in taxes when they can just call the friendly neighborhood weed person and get good weed for way cheaper. If the point of legalization is to get rid of the black market, lawmakers need to find a way to make the “legit” cannabis world more appealing. Lower prices would be a start.

Senate Bill 1302, which would have allowed delivery services to operate in cities and counties that still prohibit cannabis businesses also did not make it through. (Seriously. Some of y’all still have dispensary bans? In this economy? Apparently, some cities and counties hate jobs and tax revenue.) This, too, is a shame. Some people have to drive hundreds of miles to find a dispensary. It’s no wonder that cannabis tax revenues have fallen short of projections, what with more than half of all cities and counties in California having cannabis bans in place. California really needs to get it together. Our weed is still the best, but our laws and policies are not helping us be great.

There is some good news: SB 829, a bill to allow medical cannabis dispensaries to give away free pot to poor and indigent patients, is still in the game. This is excellent. The cannabis movement was founded on compassion, and it is important to help the less fortunate. But that’s not all. There are some other bills still up for consideration:

1. SB 1127 would allow pediatric cannabis patients to take their medication at school.

2. AB 1793 would automatically expunge or re-sentence past marijuana convictions.

3. AB 2215 would allow veterinarians to talk about medical cannabis with their patient’s owners.

4. AB 2641 would allow the Bureau of Cannabis Control to grant temporary licenses for special events in jurisdictions where the events have been approved. We hella need this one. Both of the High Times Cups were great.

5. AB 2721 would allow a laboratory to test homegrown cannabis.

6. SB 1294 would create a state cannabis equity program.

7. SB 930 would create charter banks for cannabis businesses (this would be a great thing as well).

Call your elected officials! Let them know that you support more legalization and not more prohibition. Weed is (somewhat) legal, but the battle still rages. We still need activists. Get stoned. Go hard.