Finally: California Moves To Regulate Medical Cannabis
California legalised the use of medical marijuana back in 1996, yet for over two decades the multimillion-dollar industry has gone unregulated, leaving many, both dispensaries and patients, in a vulnerable grey area of law. That all changed on September the 11th, 2015. On this day, lawmakers quietly passed law that would see the much-needed framework to regulate this market come into place.
Under the new law, medical weed will be tested for purity, and growers and dispensaries will be background checked and licensed. It will effectively be ending the “wild west” attitude that the state has endured for the last 20 years, making things a lot safer. Also, the law sets out clear and to the point language for law enforcement, stating that any license or prescription holder is “not unlawful under state law and shall not be an offense subject to arrest, prosecution, or other sanction under state law, or be subject to a civil fine or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under state law.”
NOT EVERYONE IS HAPPY
As good as the intentions of this new law are, some people are worried about its impact. More specifically, well-established dispensaries and collective growers are worried what it will mean for them, and the jolt it will bring to the industry – as they feel the law was rushed through. More worrying is the potential halt of on-demand supply to medical patients while the industry adjusts and comes back to equilibrium.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
California’s progress does not stop here, however. Despite being the first state to legalise cannabis for medical use, it is still at risk of being left behind in the wake of recreational legalisation, and the booming industry that comes with it. In order to try and rectify this, ReformCA and the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform have been building support for a ballot initiative that is hoped to appear in front of voters this coming November.
It is planned that this new medical marijuana framework could act as a template for any future effort to legalise weed for recreation use and sale.
“We feel our pressure on them is what caused the [Legislature] to feel it had to act,” said Dale Jones, chairwoman of the Coalition – meaning the pressure of the potential vote forced the state’s hand to put a medical framework in place. This new medical marijuana regulation bill will create a new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation within the state, which could easily be adapted to regulate recreational cannabis.
Things are looking brighter than usual for sunny California, as significant and real foundations are laid in law for cannabis to flourish within the state.