As a State Assembly member, Democrat Phil Ting has represented the 19th Assembly District—which includes the Westside of San Francisco, Broadmoor, Colma, Daly City and South San Francisco—since 2012, during which time he’s developed a reputation for tackling challenges with vision and tenacity. San Francisco Magazine reached out to discuss AB-2456, his recent proposal to streamline licensing of cannabis retailers, just as COVID-19 swept the city. Not surprisingly, Ting’s up for that fight too.
1. What’s your AB-2456 elevator pitch? Eighty percent of California’s cannabis sales come from the illicit market because many local jurisdictions refuse or are reluctant to license retailers, despite support from the majority of voters. Meanwhile, the legal market has been laying off workers, and the vaping crisis has been attributed to unregulated cannabis products. My bill provides a model cities and counties can follow to allow such businesses to open and safely operate in their communities.
2. How would the resulting tax revenues be spent? Cities and counties could use the local taxes from cannabis businesses to fund community needs or services. Under Proposition 64, state taxes are directed toward regulatory and administrative purposes, research, youth and environmental programs, while encouraging more law enforcement.
3. Any other goals? I am focused on the coronavirus. My immediate goal is to limit its spread, ensure all Californians have access to healthcare and provide economic certainty. I’m working on legislation to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those economically impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, we must provide financial support to affected small businesses and employees.
4. Biggest challenge? The biggest challenge right now is to make sure the state is able to get through the coronavirus pandemic and move on. When this subsides, so many aspects of our lives will be different.
5. What accomplishment are you most proud of, and why? As chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I’m most proud of helping to solidify California’s finances so it can weather a potential recession. The state currently has a $21 billion surplus and $18 billion in the rainy day fund, allowing us to respond to our public health crisis.
Photography by: Courtesy of the California State Assembly