Landlords and others who allow or assist unlicensed commercial cannabis companies to operate would face fines as high as $50,000 under two new bills currently awaiting committee hearings in the Assembly.
AB 2094 and AB 2122
The two bills differ largely on which violators they are targeting. Under Assembly Bill 2094, authored by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles), a licencing authority operating under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) would fine commercial landlords up to $50,000 per day for each violation. Landlords in question would have to knowingly rent to unlicensed cannabis/marijuana companies for fining to be active.
Meanwhile, the Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) authored Assembly Bill 2122 would have the the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the State Department of Public Health work together with the Attorney General’s office under MAUCRSA to fine those who aid and abet unlicensed commercial cannabis/marijuana sellers up to $30,000 per day per violation. Unlike AB 2094, fines under AB 2122 would be civil fines.
While other cannabis bills are currently in the Assembly and Senate, such as the unlicensed cannabis civil fine tripling AB 2437, AB 2094 and AB 2122 are seen as the major cannabis fining bills this session.
Both Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer and Assemblywoman Rubio authored their respective bills as a means to crack down on illicit and black market marijuana sales. While those sales have been growing, it has hurt the legal marijuana industry, causing financial hardships and layoffs. Recent LAPD actions against unlicensed marijuana dealers have also found over $100,000 worth of untaxed marijuana and marijuana-related merchandise.
“As the Chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, I am concerned about the prevalence of the illicit cannabis market,” said Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer in a press release last month. “The voters and the Legislature have spent time and careful consideration in drafting regulations that ensure the health and safety of Californians. Law-abiding businesses have spent time and resources to become compliant with cannabis regulations yet are struggling to compete with the illegal market because they can offer a cheaper product to consumers. This measure is crucial to helping the legal cannabis market grow in California and rewarding businesses that play by the rules.”
A need for large fines
In addition to a growing number of lawmakers, many legal cannabis sellers and marijuana advocates have praised the move.
“We did things the right way,” said Los Angeles budtender Tariq Smith. “We fought for Proposition 64 and won fairly in an election. Then me and the other store owners went through he proper channels to sell this legally, many times to people with medical needs. We’ve had people in their 20’s to people in their 90’s if you believe that. Point is we did everything right. Now we’re losing a lot of business to those who want to sell it the old way, but in the presentation of the new way.”
“It was a gray area for awhile. We need these [bills] so it protects those, like me, who did it all legally by the book and who legally pays taxes. Or else we’re gone and illegal sellers become a much larger problem.”
No major opposition is expected to any of the unlicensed marijuana crackdown bills, although there could be debate over the exact wording of the bills
Both AB 2094 and AB 2122 have been assigned committees and are expected to be debated in the next few months.