February 7, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Assembly Bill AB 2691 Could Bring Cannabis Sales to Farmers Markets

Bill passes California Assembly’s Appropriations Committee

By Dolores Quintana

Farmers markets might get a lucrative new revenue stream and a new product if Assembly Bill 2691 passed in the state legislature as reported by Eater Los Angeles. It could be a boon for independent farmers and those buyers who are still using the black market to make purchases. 

The bill advanced in the California state assembly this month would allow cannabis farmers to sell their products at farmer’s markets across the state. If it is passed, farmer’s markets could expand their products and access to the cannabis market could be further expanded. It would definitely signal a big change in how cannabis is regulated in the state of California because it would allow casual farmer’s market patrons to buy vegetables and cannabis products in the same open-air space. 

The biggest change that AB 2691 would make however is the effect that it would have on small farmers who grow less than one acre of cannabis. Ever since voters in the state approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act or Proposition 64 in 2016, the state has been tested by a seeming resistance for sellers to step out of the black market. This was noticed by observers because of the drop in state cannabis tax collection which indicated that the black market was still booming. AB 2691 would give small farmers to join the retail market as the agricultural businesses that they are. It would also increase legal access to cannabis in a way that is more of a low key and casual atmosphere. 

Naturally, the bill does have rules and restrictions. Farmers would have to have all of their paperwork up to date and in order. This would require a state cultivation license, valid local license, permit or authorization. They would be allowed to sell at eight farmer’s markets per year and the rules about which markets would be accessible to them would be decided locally, not by the state government. It should be said that the Federal government still forbids the recreational use of cannabis. 

In fact, independent cities within the Los Angeles city borders have differing laws about cannabis consumption. West Hollywood has some of the most liberal policies and laws. The city approved the ordinances in 2017 and 2018 which led to the first cannabis consumption lounges in the region. West Hollywood has a number of cannabis consumption lounges open or that are planned for the future like the, temporarily close, Original Cannabis Cafe and the Artist Tree which opened recently in April.

AB 2691 has passed the review of the Assembly Appropriations Committee as of last week but still has a long journey ahead. It will now advance to the Assembly Chamber and then go to the Senate before it will get to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom. Judging by the vote last week, there is ample support for the bill after 12 yes votes, only two no votes and two NVR votes on record.

Those groups that oppose the bill are the United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA) as reported by KCRA. UCBA’s website states that they believe AB 2691 breaks with the intent of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Another objector is Assemblyman Phillip Chen who has concerns that farmers’ markets being opened to cannabis sales is too many cannabis selling locations for his community as reported by The Sacramento Bee. Chen said, as quoted by the Sacramento Bee, “As I represent Orange County, there will be an oversaturation of these retailers in my communities.”

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