California Expands Consumption, Sales Beyond County Fairgrounds

Jerry Brown official portrait 2
Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed into law AB-2020 and SB-1294. The first permits cannabis events beyond county fairgrounds; the second addresses local equity ordinances.

LOS ANGELES—California Governor Jerry Brown signed a pair of cannabis bills Wednesday that address significant issues in the state’s nascent legal cannabis industry. AB-2020, introduced by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) and coauthored by Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), permits temporary event licenses to be issued for events where sales and consumption of cannabis can take place at any venue in the state if local approval and other conditions are met. Currently, the sale and consumption of cannabis at public events is only allowed at the state’s county fairgrounds.

The bill also contains an equally expansive provision that permits “smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting of cannabis or cannabis products on the premises of a retailer or microbusiness licensed under this division smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting of cannabis or cannabis products on the premises of a retailer or microbusiness licensed under this division,” also if certain conditions are met.


SB-1294, authored by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and coauthered by Bonta and Jones-Sawyer, brings state money and focus to bear on the industry’s piecemeal equity programs. According to legislative counsel analysis, “This bill would require, on or before July 1, 2019, the bureau to, among other things, publish approved local equity ordinances and model equity ordinances created by advocacy groups and experts, as specified, and to submit a report to the Legislature regarding the progress of local equity programs that receive funding pursuant to these provisions.”

The AB-2020 news was announced as the State of Cannabis conference was literally coming to an end, and was greeted with hoots and hollers by the remaining attendees of the two-day event on The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Known to focus on the policy side of cannabis issues, the conference attracts politicians and regulators from throughout the state and beyond.

Attorney Omar Figueroa (Photo: Tom Hymes)

Omar Figueroa, a noted industry attorney and cannabis activist, took to the mic as the news was announced. “These are historic time where we are going to be seeing some cannabis events,” he said. “Let it be known—[we’re] no longer limited to the county fairgrounds. But how do you get the locals to give the okay? You start educating them about the incredible economic opportunity that cannabis tourism can bring to the jurisdiction. I’m thinking Mendocino County needs to have cannabis festivals starting as soon as AB-2020 takes effect, which I believe is January 1, 2019. Many other jurisdictions will have them, too. The opportunities are endless.”

Dale Schaefer, an attorney with the Weed for Warriors Project, took to the stage immediately following Figueroa to talk about what the signing in law of SB-1294 means to his group. “The equity program is huge for us because we can now get help for vets. Before, we couldn’t get into these equity programs to take advantage of the money and other services they bring. Now we can, and a $10 million state waiver of fees is huge!” Veterans are still waiting for the state to allow retailers to give free medicine to veterans, he said, but added that the passage of SB-1294 is “a start and we’re going to go back to the legislature next year and ask them to open it up for more.” To further than end, he encouraged the crowd to become informed about the 35-40 statewide cannabis-related initiatives on the ballot in November.