Cal NORML 2023 Accomplishments and Plans for 2024


Now is the time to build on the progress we made in 2023! Please support Cal NORML with a membership donation. Click Here to Donate or see our Cal NORML store and purchase merchandise.

Giving Tuesday / End of Year Special: Get a Free Gift with Your Cal NORML membership through 12/31/23.


Once again this year, Cal NORML and its supporters actively lobbied on 40-50 bills affecting California cannabis consumers and the industry. We generated over 3500 letters from supporters to lawmakers though our Action Alert network, and scheduled 200 constituent meetings with lawmakers at our annual Lobby Day in May (pictured).

Among bills signed into law are:

SB 700 (Bradford) strengthens the employment rights bill Cal NORML sponsored last year to add, “It is unlawful for an employer to request information from an applicant for employment relating to the applicant’s prior use of cannabis.”

SB 302 (Stern) extends Ryan’s Law, which requires specified health-care facilities to allow terminally ill patients to use nonsmoked (or vaped) forms of cannabis. SB 302 will now protect all patients 65 and over with chronic diseases.

SB 51 (Bradford) allows the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) to continue issuing provisional licenses to local equity applicants for retailer activities, indefinitely, if the applicant meets specified requirements. Without the bill, many equity applicants would have lost their provisional permits, which were set to expire this year. The Governor signed the bill while calling for greater support for equity businesses, something Cal NORML supports.

SB 540 (Laird) directs the DCC and CA Dept. of Public Health to develop a one-page educational brochure to instruct consumers on the safe use of cannabis. The bill was backed by the industry and Cal NORML as an alternative to stricter labeling requirements or potency limits in order to address growing public concern over an increase in emergency room visits due to cannabis overdoses from edibles and high-potency products. At Cal NORML’s urging, the bill was amended to require that dispensaries offer all first-time customers the printed brochure.

We were disappointed that SB 512, a bill by Senator Bradford (D-LA) that sought to end double taxation on cannabis at the state and local levels, delivering much-needed relief to what is currently an unfairly overtaxed industry, did not advance this year in the legislature. Cal NORML supporters sent in nearly 1000 letters in support of the bill and we testified in its favor. We will continue to work for tax fairness for cannabis from a consumers’ perspective in 2024. Read more.

Cannabis advocates were pleasantly surprised by Gov. Newsom’s veto of a controversial labeling bill by Asm. Jacqui Irwin, AB 1207, ostensibly aimed at ensuring cannabis products aren’t attractive to children. As originally filed, AB 1207 proposed several new, overreaching restrictions: requiring individual packaging of edible servings, prohibiting food coloring in edibles and flavorings in inhaled concentrates, and banning images of real or fictitious human beings, fruits and vegetables in packaging or advertising. Newsom’s veto statement echoed the same concerns that Cal NORML raised about the bill.

In a more disappointing move, the Governor also vetoed AB 374 (Haney) to allow preparing and selling non-cannabis-infused food, nonalcoholic beverages, and tickets for live performances at licensed cannabis consumption lounges. At present, lounges can serve only prepackaged snacks. Cal NORML supported this bill to expand the opportunities for social consumption and attract canna-tourist revenue, and released a white paper addressing concerns raised by anti-tobacco forces opposed to the bill, who complained that it would expose lounge workers to unacceptable health hazards. On that basis, Gov. Newsom vetoed the bill, but invited Asm. Haney to re-introduce it next year. Cal NORML will continue to work towards its passage by responding with sound science to exaggerated public health claims about the dangers of cannabis smoke.

Cal NORML worked to mitigate the impact of new enforcement bills aimed at cracking down on the illicit market so as to not unduly harm personal-use growers and minor offenders. It is generally better to lower barriers to licensure and lessen taxes and regulation rather than spend endless dollars in enforcement, which has never worked well in all the decades of cannabis prohibition.



Cannabis LoungeIn an effort to encourage more localities to allow for cannabis consumption spaces, Cal NORML compiled a list of cannabis consumption lounges in California to share with our members and supporters.

Under California state law, cannabis retailers can open on-site cannabis consumption spaces, with local approval. Some are moving forward (see list below) while others, like Los Angeles and Berkeley, have resisted consumption rooms altogether, as anti-tobacco forces have falsely conflate cannabis smoke with tobacco and show up at local meetings to fight off our rights. Help us make cannabis consumption allowed across California!


California workers will be protected from employment discrimination for off-the-job use of marijuana under a new law sponsored by Cal NORML—Government Code 12954—taking effect January 1, 2024. Enacted last year under bill AB 2188 by Asm. Bill Quirk, the new law bans employers from firing or refusing to hire workers based on drug tests that detect inactive cannabis metabolites—in particular, urine and hair tests, which can detect marijuana residues days or weeks after last use and have no relation to on-the-job impairment.

Complaints about illegal discrimination for off-the-job marijuana use are to be handled by the California Civil Rights Department. Cal NORML has met with the CRD, and has posted information about complaint resolution and securing a “right to sue” once administrative remedies are exhausted.

Cal NORML has been reaching out to unions, businesses and human rights groups to help raise awareness of workers’ rights under AB 2188 and SB 700. We have developed flyers and Fact Sheets for Employers and Employees in both English and Spanish about the new laws. Read more.


Another bill from last year that Cal NORML supported, SB 1186 by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), preempts local bans on medicinal cannabis delivery, expanding patients’ access to legal, regulated cannabis products. This law will also take effect on 1/1/2024. Local jurisdictions that ban all cannabis delivery are in the process of changing their ordinances to comply with the new state law, with some confusion about what it requires. Cal NORML Legal Committee member Lauren Mendelsohn will be giving a presentation about SB 1186 at the Cal NORML Legal Seminar on January 20, 2024.

We are also working to raise awareness about a 2022 Cal NORML-sponsored bill, AB 1954 (Quirk), which is now law and protects the right of patients to medical treatment if they use marijuana, and the right of physicians and clinics to treat them. Many physicians are under the mistaken impression that they can’t prescribe medication to patients who test positive for cannabis. In California, many health plans, health systems, and hospitals require patients to sign agreements not to use illicit or controlled substances for the duration of their prescribed opioid treatment and agree to drug testing.

AB 1954 specifies that a positive drug test for cannabis should not in itself be the sole basis for denying medical treatment to a patient absent a medically significant reason. It became law on January 1, 2023. Read more.

Cal NORML has also been watchdogging implementation of these bills:

• AB 1706 by Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), ensuring that Californians with old cannabis-related convictions will finally have those convictions sealed. DOJ reports that while 212,344 of eligible past cannabis convictions have been cleared by county courts, 8% of cases eligible for resentencing—numbering 15,306—still have not been cleared at the local level, as was required by July 1. DOJ says it will continue to work towards compliance at the county level. Read more.

• AB 2595 by Asm. Reggie Jones-Sawyer (Los Angeles) to require the State Department of Social Services to treat a parent’s use of cannabis in the same manner as alcohol or legally prescribed medication. As of this writing, DHS still has not issued instructions to case workers, as required by the law. We will continue to press for this to happen and hope to support further legislation in this area next year.


• Advocate for lowering cannabis taxes in California, especially for medical users.
• Inform workers and employers about their rights under AB 2188 to off-the-job use of cannnabis.
• Support opening more cannabis consumption lounges and allow them to serve food and beverages.
• Advocate for extending SB 34, allowing compassionate donations of medical cannabis.
• Support better consumer education on cannabis dosage and high-potency products.
• Support more accurate / improved product testing and labeling.
• Support parental rights for cannabis users, and end drug testing of newborns and their mothers.
• Oppose policies that would unduly limit consumer choice or restrict personal use and cultivation.
• Lobby Congress for federal descheduling, the SAFER banking act, and other reforms.


Now is the time to build on the progress we made in 2023! Please support Cal NORML with a membership donation. Click Here to Donate or see our Cal NORML store and purchase merchandise.

Giving Tuesday / End of Year Special: Get a Free Gift with Your Cal NORML membership through 12/31/23.

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