California Establishes MMJ Regulations after Nearly 20 Years
September 17th, 2015
California lawmakers reached a long-awaited compromise on regulations for the state’s medical marijuana industry for the first time since legalization occurred in 1996, according to LA Times.
The regulations will create a new state office that would issue licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries alongside municipalities. While dispensaries would have to follow a number of new state regulations, the compromise dropped a proposed excise tax that would have generated about $60 million in revenue for policing and environmental protection. The specific regulations will be divided between a couple of bills in the State and Assembly.
The newly created Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (“BMMR”) will work with the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health to oversee multi-agency licensing and regulatory efforts. While the complete details of the program won’t be available for some time, the bills were welcomed by the California Cannabis Industry Association and other advocacy groups as a major step forward.
Many cannabis advocates are also hoping that the bill will help put the state on more solid footing ahead of potential legalization of recreational marijuana.
In July, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Stanford Professor Keith Humphreys, and ACLU’s Abdi Soltani joined a team of industry experts to outline policy options for regulating marijuana with a focus on recreational marijuana. The so-called Pathways Report aimed to promote public interest, reduce the size of the illicit market, provide legal protection to responsible actors, and capture and invest tax revenue through a fair system.
The resulting 50 recommendations were sent to lawmakers and voters in California, as well as others around the country looking for guidance for their own programs. With recreational legalization coming to a vote in November 2016, these suggestions could become the cornerstone for the state’s policies moving forward.
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