Major Changes to Cannabis Laws in 2022


When it comes to marijuana legislation, 2022 has been an eventful year. Across the nation, three states legalized marijuana for adult recreational use: Maryland, Missouri, and Rhode Island. Mississippi’s governor signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana. These states join the now 39 states and D.C. that have legalized marijuana for medical use and the 21 states and D.C. that have legalized it for adult recreational use.

The rising number of states where medical and recreational marijuana is now legal indicates how rapidly support for legalization has grown. This has placed pressure on federal lawmakers to address calls for marijuana reform.

Progress on the Federal Level

This year brought long-awaited – if incremental – changes to federal cannabis policy, including:

President Biden’s Statement on Marijuana Reform

On October 6, 2022, President Biden released a statement announcing three steps his administration would be taking to work toward the decriminalization of marijuana:

  1. A Proclamation on Granting Pardon for the Offense of Simple Possession of Marijuana, which granted pardons to about 6500 people who had been convicted for marijuana possession under federal law
  2. Encouragement of governors to follow suit with similar marijuana pardons, as most of the federal pardons will impact individuals from the District of Columbia
  3. Review of marijuana’s current Schedule 1 drug status under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA)

The Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act

Signed into law on December 2, 2022, this act is the first standalone federal cannabis reform legislation. The act supports scientific research of marijuana and marijuana-derived products for medical treatment of illnesses and disorders. It also directs the FDA to streamline the approval process for research applications, eases access for researchers to large quantities of marijuana, and protects doctors who discuss the benefits and side effects of cannabis and cannabis-derived products with their patients.

SAFE Banking Act

Lawmakers in Congress are working toward passage of the SAFE Banking Act, which has already passed the House. The bill would allow banks and other financial institutions to provide financial services to cannabis businesses.

Changes to California Marijuana Laws

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bevy of new marijuana laws. Here are a few of the most significant:

  • AB 2595: Sponsored by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D), this bill mandates that social workers investigating child welfare treat parental marijuana use like alcohol.
  • SB 1326: Senator Anna Caballero (D) sponsored a bill that would allow for interstate marijuana commerce from California to and from other states where marijuana is legal. Any commerce would depend upon official reassurances that such interstate commerce would not place the state at risk with federal authorities.
  • AB 1706: Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D) sponsored a bill mandating the courts to process record sealing of people with eligible cannabis convictions.
  • Senator Scott Wiener (D) sponsored a bill prohibiting localities from banning medical marijuana deliveries.
  • AB 2188: Sponsored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D), AB 2188 prohibits employment discrimination based on off-duty marijuana use, and prohibits employers from conducting THC testing, except for federal employees and construction workers.
  • AB 1885: Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D) sponsored a bill authorizing cannabis products for use by non-human animals and protecting veterinarians who issue cannabis recommendations for pets.
  • SB 1186: Sponsored by Senator Scott Weiner (D), this bill prohibits local entities from banning the delivery of medical marijuana to authorized patients.

As state and federal marijuana legislation continues to change, the knowledgeable and experienced cannabis business law attorneys at Purdy & Bailey, LLP are ready to help you and your business navigate this complex legal landscape. We know how crucial it is that your business not only remain compliant with ever-shifting state and federal marijuana regulations, but also remain at the forefront of any new opportunities that open up as the horizon for legal marijuana develops.

At Purdy & Baily, LLP, we are ready to help you take the steps you need to ensure the viability and success of your cannabis business. Contact us at (858) 360-7080 today to schedule a consultation.

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