California marijuana regulations – and specifically, what they should be – is the first order of business for the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. The state agency has now opened the doors for applications of stakeholders to weigh in as they craft the state rules that will govern the new legal market.
Wider medical marijuana laws passed by the state in 2015, plus the recreational legalization measure that was approved by voters in November require some type of regulatory framework put in place by the state agency. These provisions will ultimately cover the specifics of marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, sales and other market elements. But first, the agency wants input.
In the meantime, state lawmakers are busy working to hammer out a new law that would help to reconcile the various discrepancies between the medical marijuana law and the recreational marijuana law. The discrepancies currently are pitting labor unions against each other. Some of the differences involve things like who can move marijuana from farms and manufacturing plants to market. There are also numerous questions about whether marijuana businesses should be allowed to operate as a one-stop-shop.
For example, should a single company be allowed the power to grow, transport and sell their own products directly? Groups pushing for a forced separation of these duties are seeking to help curtail the proliferation of a few wealthy monopolies. However, Proposition 64 as written allows growers and manufacturers to distribute their own products, with a few exceptions. But medical marijuana laws require an independent third-party middleman to distribute the product, much the same way the alcohol industry does. Distributors also collect taxes and serve to transport products to various labs for safety testing, which is something most lawmakers favor, and it could help reduce the chances that a manufacturer would stark hawking their product on the black market.
However, some union leaders opposed to this kind of model say marijuana shouldn’t be treated the same as alcohol in this regard. They argue that all alcohol has a relatively long shelf life and can be transported in pretty much the same way, no matter what kind of alcohol it is. However, marijuana products can range from a variety of edibles to oils, and each might need different specialized shipping methods, for which it would make more sense to put the manufacturer already in possession of specialized equipment in charge. On top of that, there would be the expense of training a third party and the concern that a third-party distribution firm may not be the best stewards of a marijuana business brand.
In the end, the state will have just one regulatory body and system that is going to cover both medical and recreational marijuana, and they hope to do it by the close of 2017. However, there have been a number of questions raised about whether such a model is feasible, given that we’re talking about a multi-billion dollar industry shored up in a matter of months.
The advisory committee, which will be comprised of individuals from the marijuana industry, public health officials, labor unions, marijuana lawyers, state and local officials and others, is going to be working hand-in-hand with the department of food and agriculture, public health, public safety and the marijuana bureau to work out a regulation that will:
- Product public safety.
- Preserve public health.
- Reduce the size of the illegal marijuana market.
Applications are being accepted up through this week. The positions aren’t paid, but having a seat at the table that is going to help formulate the regulations could in some ways be priceless. Additionally, there will be some reimbursement for travel-related expenses.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
California seeks advisers on marijuana rules, Feb. 10, 2017, By Taryn Luna, Sacramento Bee
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Arizona Man Arrested for Marijuana Didn’t Know Weed Was Still Illegal There, Feb. 15, 2017, California Marijuana Lawyer Blog