An Overview of California’s Cannabis Laws in 2023


California’s cannabis laws underwent significant changes in 2023. These legislative updates have far-reaching implications for everyone across the industry, including consumers, employees and business owners.

In this article, we will explore the key changes brought about by Assembly Bill 2188, SB 58 and SB 700, alongside the potential legalization of psychedelics in California and assess the impact of these changes on various stakeholders involved.

California’s History with Marijuana

California has long been at the forefront of cannabis reform, with the legalization of medical marijuana in 1996 and adult-use sales in 2016. Over the years, the state has implemented various laws and regulations to ensure the responsible use and distribution of cannabis. However, with the passage of time, it’s become evident that certain aspects needed further refinement to address emerging challenges and concerns.

One significant milestone in California’s cannabis legislation history was the establishment of the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) in 2017. The BCC plays a pivotal role in regulating the cannabis industry, issuing licenses and enforcing compliance with state laws. Its creation marked a shift towards a more structured and organized approach to overseeing the cannabis market.


California has also continuously adapted its cannabis laws to keep pace with evolving societal attitudes and scientific research. The state has invested in programs to promote responsible consumption, educate the public about the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use and support research initiatives to expand the knowledge base surrounding this plant.

Assembly Bill 2188: Protecting Employee Rights

One of the most significant legislative changes in 2023 is Assembly Bill 2188 (AB 2188), which focuses on protecting the rights of cannabis industry employees. This bill aims to address the unequal treatment faced by employees due to the federal classification of cannabis as an illegal substance.

AB 2188 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their cannabis use or related convictions. It requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations and protect employees’ privacy rights when it comes to off-duty cannabis consumption. This change is a significant step towards creating a fair and inclusive work environment for individuals working in the cannabis industry.

Furthermore, Assembly Bill 2188 includes provisions that mandate employers to educate their workforce on the rights of employees in relation to cannabis use. This educational component is crucial in ensuring that both employers and employees are well-informed about the new regulations and obligations set forth by the bill. By promoting awareness and understanding, AB 2188 not only protects employees but also fosters a culture of compliance and respect within the cannabis industry.

Another key aspect of AB 2188 is the establishment of a grievance procedure to address any violations of the rights outlined in the bill. This procedure provides a formal mechanism for employees to report instances of discrimination or privacy breaches related to their cannabis use. By offering a clear process for resolution, AB 2188 empowers employees to advocate for their rights and hold employers accountable for maintaining a safe and equitable workplace.


SB 58 and the Potential Legalization of Psychedelics in California

SB 58, a groundbreaking piece of legislation, has sparked discussions about the potential legalization of psychedelics in California. While the bill is still under review, its introduction signals a growing interest in exploring the therapeutic benefits of substances like psilocybin and MDMA.

Supporters argue that controlled and regulated use of psychedelics can have profound positive effects on mental health, offering new avenues for treating conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD. Research studies have shown promising results in using psychedelics for therapy, with some individuals reporting long-lasting improvements in their mental well-being after just a few sessions. The potential for these substances to catalyze transformative experiences and promote emotional healing is a driving force behind the push for legalization.

However, opponents express concerns about the risks associated with psychedelic substances and the potential for misuse. They point to the importance of strict regulations and comprehensive education to mitigate any adverse effects and ensure safe usage. The debate surrounding the legalization of psychedelics is multifaceted, encompassing discussions on public health, criminal justice and individual liberties.

As California continues to lead the way in progressive drug policy, the outcome of SB 58 and its potential impact on the state’s cannabis laws will undoubtedly shape the industry’s future directions. The intersection of psychedelic legalization with existing regulatory frameworks presents a complex challenge for lawmakers and stakeholders alike, requiring thoughtful consideration of various factors such as taxation, licensing and public health initiatives. The evolving landscape of drug policy in California reflects a broader societal shift towards reevaluating traditional approaches to substance use and mental health treatment.

SB 700: Redefining Hiring Practices and Inquiries into Past Cannabis Use

In a move to remove barriers to employment within the cannabis industry, SB 700 has redefined hiring practices and inquiries into past cannabis use. This bill ensures that individuals with prior cannabis convictions are not unfairly excluded from job opportunities in the industry.

Employers are now prohibited from asking candidates about their marijuana use history before making a conditional job offer. This legislation seeks to rectify the disproportionate impact of cannabis-related arrests and convictions on marginalized communities, promoting social equity and justice in the workforce.


The Impact on Stakeholders

The legislative changes have a significant impact on various stakeholders involved in California’s cannabis industry. From cultivators and manufacturers to retailers, consumers and cannabis dispensaries, everyone will experience the ripple effects of these new laws and regulations.

For businesses, complying with the updated requirements is paramount to maintain legality and avoid penalties. Adapting to the changes may involve revising business models, adjusting supply chains or investing in new technologies to ensure seamless operations.

Consumers, on the other hand, can expect enhanced product quality and safety standards as a result of the regulatory updates. They will also benefit from a more competitive market, with increased accessibility and product diversity.

Looking Ahead

It’s clear that California’s cannabis laws are evolving to address the changing needs and challenges of the industry. The key legislative changes, including AB 2188, signify the state’s commitment to protecting employee rights and fostering a fair and inclusive working environment.

The changes in licensing, regulation and taxation also reflect California’s dedication to cultivating a responsible and thriving cannabis industry. It’s essential for all stakeholders to stay informed and navigate these changes proactively to ensure compliance and maximize their opportunities in this rapidly evolving market.

By embracing these legislative changes, California can pave the way for other states to follow suit, driving nationwide cannabis reform and promoting the responsible use and distribution of this versatile plant.

Bertha Garrett is deeply involved in the cannabis industry. She worked as a budtender for 2 years. Now she handles content at the SouthBay Canna Clinic – a Marijuana Dispensary