California Proposes Rules for Medical Pot

By Staggs, Brooke | Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), April 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

California Proposes Rules for Medical Pot


Staggs, Brooke, Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)


California published detailed plans to regulate its multibillion-dollar medical marijuana industry Friday, the most comprehensive rule book for medical pot since the state made it legal 20 years ago.

The proposed plan -- drafted in three parts by three different state agencies -- lays out standards for any medical marijuana business that wants to get licensed by the state, with rules for everything from how late pot shops can stay open to how big farms can be to how much weed can be sold to a patient in a single day.

The 211 pages of regulations aren't law yet, and they don't apply to the upcoming recreational marijuana industry, which was legalized in November and kicks in on Jan. 1. The state is accepting public comment on the proposed medical cannabis rules plans in writing and through a series of public hearings over the next 45 days before final guidelines when the state issues licenses on Jan. 1, 2018.

"The proposed licensing regulations for medical cannabis are the result of countless hours of research, stakeholder outreach, informational sessions and pre-regulatory meetings all across the state," said Lori Ajax, chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. "And while we have done quite a bit of work, and heard from thousands of people, there is still so much more to do."

A call to rein in the state's medical marijuana market was set in motion in 2015, when Gov. Jerry Brown authorized a trio of bills known as the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.

The bills called for the eventual establishment of comprehensive regulations. It also created the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation and the state's first so-called "pot czar" -- a position now held by former alcohol industry regulator Ajax -- to oversee how the regulations are crafted.

For about a year, Ajax and her team have been working on detailed regulations for medical cannabis distributors, transporters, laboratories and retailers, gathering input from stakeholders at meetings held throughout the state to produce the 58-page document released Friday.

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Health has been crafting its own 95-page document to guide those who manufacture cannabis products, such as edibles and concentrates. And the Department of Food and Agriculture has been drafting regulations for marijuana cultivators.

The already tough task got more complicated in November, when Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana under Proposition 64.

The state agencies now must also develop detailed regulations for that side of the market. Those plans are due out this fall.

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The medical and recreational marijuana worlds are largely similar, but there are enough important distinctions to cause turmoil in Sacramento between big unions, small business owners and would-be cannabis entrepreneurs.

Earlier this month, Brown's office released a 92-page plan for reconciling differences between the medical marijuana and recreational cannabis laws. In the budget trailer bill, he sided largely with free-market policies dictated by Prop. 64, drawing praise from trade groups such as the California Cannabis Industry Association and criticism from law enforcement and the League of California Cities.

The state agencies used Brown's recommendations as a guide in developing the regulations released Friday, though discrepancies remain. …

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