Sacramento Report: We Know What Gonzalez’s Next Big Move Might Be - Voice of San Diego

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Sacramento Report: We Know What Gonzalez’s Next Big Move Might Be

New rules handed down from the Bureau of Cannabis Control could upend local bans, local leaders are scrambling to plan for an infusion of homeless funds and more in our weekly roundup of news from Sacramento.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez speaks at a live recording of the Voice of San Diego Podcast. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez appeared on our live podcast, taped Wednesday night.

Earlier that day, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law her bill requiring mail ballots to include pre-paid postage.

It’s the latest in a series of bills Gonzalez has written to lower the bar on voting in the state.

Given her interest in voting and the fact that she’s shot down questions about whether she’ll run for mayor of San Diego, I asked: Are you gunning for secretary of state?

Gonzalez said that she supports Secretary of State Alex Padilla in his re-election bid. The next time the seat will be up will be 2022. She also said she hates it when politicians spend all their time plotting for their next position.

But then …

“But yeah, I’ll probably run for secretary of state,” she said.

Speaking of Bill Signings …

Gonzalez’s voting bill wasn’t the only measure written by a San Diego lawmaker signed into law by the governor this week. Brown also OK’d these measures:

  • AB 1791 by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron requires the Medical Board of California to consider including courses on certain HIV/AIDS topics when setting its continuing education requirements.
  • AB 2236 by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein identifies responsibilities a conservator may still handle after the death of a conservatee.

Local Bans on Pot Could Be Effectively Overturned

California officials say new marijuana regulations should be seen as technical tweaks, but at least one provision is a potential a game-changer for the industry.

Most municipalities in California continue to ban marijuana in some form. The proposed rules laid out late last week by the Bureau of Cannabis Control would allow existing retailers to make deliveries in any municipality, regardless of whether local officials allow it.

If the rule survives, it would effectively overturn prohibitions in places like unincorporated San Diego County, giving patients and consumers a way to buy marijuana without leaving their homes.

There are licensed medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the county, but the Board of Supervisors last year told them to close by 2022.

County spokespeople didn’t return a request for comment. But Gregg Fishman, communications coordinator for the California State Association of Counties, which lobbies on behalf of San Diego County and others, said the new rules for delivery services should have been approved through the normal legislative process – not by regulators – because it represents an amendment to Proposition 64.

The public has until late August to comment. The state could revise the rules before they become permanent at the end of the year.

Not all deliverers were excited by the news – some question what the changes mean for their own bottom lines over the long-term.

On the one hand, the state is no longer requiring drivers to make single stops, which add up.

“It’s not profitable to have a driver on the road and pay them to go back and forth after each delivery,” said Manny Biezunski, a member of the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance.

Instead, they’ll be allowed to carry up to $10,000 worth of supplies.

That rule, and others, had the support of some of the state’s biggest marijuana technology companies. As third-party players who connect retailers and consumers, those companies don’t require a license. But they’ve laid down enough infrastructure and collected enough customer data, Biezunski said, that they could eventually dominate the marketplace.

Yet the new rules do provide local activists and industry professionals with some leverage over City Councils that remain reluctant to lift bans on commercial marijuana sales. Those sales are going to happen anyhow – with none of the tax revenue that would come with handing out a few licenses of their own.

Other major changes to statewide marijuana regulations could include:

Dosage

People with a medical recommendation will be able to purchase products with higher levels of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

The current rules prohibit retailers from selling packages of edibles that contain more than 100 milligrams. Under the new regulations, card-carrying consumers can buy dissolving edibles, such as lozenges or mouth strips, that have up to 500 milligrams, the Mercury News reported.

Activists say patients who suffer from cancer and other serious illnesses need significantly higher doses to deal with severe pain.

Marketing

Dispensaries won’t be able to give away product and can’t engage in advertising that could be considered appealing to minors. That includes toys, inflatables, movie characters and cartoon characters.

Outdoor ads would need to be attached to a building or permanent structure.

Jesse Marx

San Diego Leaders Scramble to Plan for an Infusion of Homelessness Money

San Diego leaders are rushing to prepare for about $30 million in onetime cash from the state.

A state budget deal last month negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins of San Diego and others included $500 million in emergency homelessness block grants expected to flow to major California cities and regional groups starting this fall.

Officials estimate the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, which coordinates San Diego’s homelessness response, could receive about $19 million and the city of San Diego could see $14 million.

San Diego leaders aren’t sure how they’ll spend the money yet.  First, they need to clarify how they’ll be allowed to spend it.

SB 850, the budget legislation detailing the block grant program, allows funding for everything from shelters to rental assistance for homeless people though local leaders are hoping for more specifics before settling on plans.

The state’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency has said it aims to release an application and funding guidelines later this summer that should offer more clarity.

“We want to move as quickly as we can,” agency spokesman Russ Heimerich said. “The whole idea here is to get the money out the door fast.”

In the meantime, mayor’s office spokesman Greg Block and Tamera Kohler of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless said the city and the countywide group have sought more details to help them etch out next steps. Both entities are also working on more overarching plans to address homelessness.

Block said a team of city staffers led by Bahija Humphrey, a former Downtown San Diego Partnership staffer who until recently oversaw the city’s homelessness initiatives, is working on a city-focused roadmap.

The goal, Block said, is to settle on a data-focused, longer-term strategy and prepare for a potential crush of funding. In the city, that new money could also include more than $140 million in the next five years if a hotel-tax measure pushed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer succeeds.

And the Task Force, which had for months pressed pause on an initial plan to create a regional homelessness road map, is now resuming those efforts.

Kohler said the Task Force has asked Sacramento-based consultant Focus Strategies to further analyze regional homelessness data and help identify gaps. This work will help the region plan for the new money and better identify broader needs across the county.

Kohler said her group is already coordinating closely with city and county officials on both efforts.

Lisa Halverstadt

  • Sen. Joel Anderson wrote a VOSD op-ed boosting two bills he’s co-written that he says will address homelessness by providing treatment and housing options for people with mental health issues.

Golden State News

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