A Look At California's New Cannabis Laws
We recently outlined how legitimate medical marijuana was finally coming to California, where using marijuana for medical purposes has technically been legal for years – there was just no regulated market in place. Now with the wheels of law in motion, the details of how the state is going to implement this legalisation is being hammered out, and the plans are extremely interesting.
BREAKING THE NORM: A DIFFERENT PATH TO COLORADO AND WASHINGTON
Although cannabis is not legal on a recreational level in California (yet), many thought the ways in which it would be grown and regulated would mimic other states already a year or two into legalisation. However, California is taking a different approach; instead of tightly restricting growth to the dispensaries that sell the marijuana, Cali will allow anyone to grow, businesses both big and small, independent or part of a dispensary, as long as they are licensed and regulated. As such, the new laws will have a total of 17 different cannabis related licenses available to growers, distributors, and dispensaries! It effectively ensures no-one is frozen out of the industry, or that it dominated by corporations (in theory) - in the same way the licensing set-up works for the alcohol industry.
This new method gives the emerging cannabis industry within California a lot of versatility. Instead of one company controlling everything, an independent grower will be able to grow their crop, have it picked up by a licensed distribution network, where it can then be sent to licensed dispensaries, labs, factories or kitchens for varying purposes. Nothing needs to be “in-house,” so anyone one can get in on the growth.
These rules and licenses are planned to be formalized over the next two years, effectively regulating everything from seed to sale. California is also set to vote on recreational legalisation in 2016, meaning this new framework will have to encompass the potential shift.
SLIPPING THROUGH THE CRACKS
Of course, there are worries that such broad licensing and open structure will be extremely hard to properly control, potentially allowing for illegal trade to slip in. However, the Department of Food and Agriculture looks set to combat this; they will be putting a “track and trace” system into place to ensure all cannabis is given a unique tracer from the moment seed is put into the soil.
Though for many “criminals” the change is extremely welcome, and even met with excitement and optimism. California is home to the Humboldt region, which is notorious for its cannabis growing (as well as world class seed genetics). As you can imagine, this is home to many growers who are currently supplying the demand for medical cannabis within the State, but are technically criminals. This new law means they can all become licensed, inspected and audited. Giving them legitimacy and improving confidence in the marijuana industry as a whole.
“Everyone is afraid, wary – and hopeful,” said Casey O’Neill, a medical grower from the region “It does feel like a new era. We are now farmers. We are no longer criminals.”
One thing is for sure, California is in for some exciting times, times that will hopefully usher in an era of prosperity for the industry, instead of falling flat on its face under a mountain of red tape. Things are certainly changing, and it is sending a clear message to the rest of the nation, and the world – the cannabis industry is legitimate, and it is here to stay.