As the 6th biggest economy in the world, California is expected to impact the globe once recreational marijuana becomes a functional industry. The plant was legalized for recreational use last November and officials have been working hard to ensure that it is available to purchase by the time the deadlines come. The biggest hindrance to this process has been some of the issues between the medical industry and the recreational industry. Some of the recreational regulations contradict the medical industry that is already up and running and it is necessary to get them harmonized before the industry can get on its feet.
Emergency Regulations Necessary
3 state agencies in California spent over a year trying to come up with appropriate regulations for the medical marijuana industry. They came up with a draft of regulations 211 pages long that they will now have to scrap in order to meet appropriate deadlines. According to The Cannabist, officials have announced that they will be creating the regulations using an “emergency rule making process” that will not require the usual public hearing. Senate Bill 94, known as the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, was approved in June and seeks to bring the medical and recreational marijuana industries into alignment. The approval of this bill has been the main reason why the current 211 page draft of regulations will need to be thrown out and the process started again.
Restructuring of Public Input
Officials plan to begin giving out licenses on January 2, 2018 and, in order to meet this deadline, the public hearing is being dropped. Up until now, the regulations have been open and shared with the public, receiving an abundance of comments and public input through each step of the way. Alex Traveso, spokesperson for the state cannabis bureau, has stated that public comments have been helpful and the department will still be open to public discussion. “We will likely do public comment after the fact to get input as we know the fine-tuning will continue to be a process,” he said. The new emergency regulations are expected to be published this fall although so far there is no date for this.
Surplus Cannabis Supply in California
One of the things that regulations will address is the fact that there is currently too much cannabis being grown in California. Approximately 8 times the amount of cannabis is actually being grown compared to how much is being consumed. This is also more than what can be exported. Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, spoke at a panel discussion at Sacramento Press Club explaining the “painful” costs to licensed growers if the situation is not amended. He simply says “we are producing too much.” He adds that state-licensed growers “are going to have to scale back. We are on a painful downsizing curve.” Once regulations are set, this should help in getting the industry balanced and in good working order.
California is 1 of 8 states to have legalized recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21. It is 1 of 29 states to have legalized medical cannabis.