State Lawmakers Scramble to Help Pot Growers Keep Licenses

Even though some provisional operating licenses issued last year expired in March and April, cannabis growers are hoping some recent legislative fixes in Sacramento will come to the rescue. 

However, some expired licenses in Santa Barbara County have prompted a number of growers to come to a halt, said a South Coast land-use attorney. According to published reports, thousands of licenses expired in April. 

After California voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, the state issued temporary permits so that start-up cannabis businesses could begin operation until permanent licenses could be issued. 

The state legislature let time run out and has been scrambling to fix laws that would allow the businesses to stay in operation, as if the California legal cannabis industry needed any more problems. 

For example, far lower than anticipated tax revenue has been generated so far from cannabis as law enforcement continues to crack down on illegal operations. Santa Ynez grape growers are up in arms along with Carpinteria avocado farmers and residents who say cannabis odors really stink. 

Included in the state’s new $218.2 billion spending plan, is a deal that would extend the state’s provisional licensing and change expiration from Jan. 1, 2020, to Jan. 1, 2025. Lawmakers passed the initial budget June 13. 

The budget bill makes it clearer on how marijuana companies can get licenses, which would let businesses apply for temporary licenses that can be renewed without obtaining a temporary one initially. 

The deal would give pot companies a two-year exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act, the environmental protection law. 

The legislation also sets up a fine structure for legal cannabis license holders who violate state laws regulating the industry. Fines range from up to $5,000 for license holders and up to $30,000 for each violation for non-license holders. 

Lawmakers are expected to finalize approval of the marijuana-related bills in the coming week. 

Posted June 15, 2019. 

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