Last November, California voters elected to legalize recreational weed. Now the state has until January 1, 2018 to formulate all the rules and regulations that will govern every aspect of the industry. The huge task ahead not only involves the organization of the recreational marijuana industry but also the balancing of the medical one so that both can thrive without conflicting. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper paid a visit to California lawmakers on Tuesday in order to give some advice and guidance on the road ahead. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 and it became available for sale in 2014. The governor said that setting up the industry is one of the hardest things he’s ever done but followed up to say it’s also the achievement of which he’s most proud.
Limitations on Home Marijuana Cultivation
Gov. Hickenlooper brought up the key issues that Colorado had to deal with when legalizing marijuana. Home grow laws had to be evaluated and changed as their medical marijuana program allowed for patients to grow up to 99 plants. California’s recreational marijuana laws have already gotten ahead of this issue, giving residents a 6 plant home grow limit. Some areas have placed a limit of 12 plants a year on home growing.
Challenges with Marijuana Edibles
A big issue for Colorado was a lack of regulation when it came to edibles. Marijuana infused food was being sold without any label indication of how many servings were in the food. Another issue with edibles was their appeal to children. Edibles were being created in the same shape as popular children’s candies. Marijuana edibles and drinks were not labeled properly leaving them prone to be mixed up with regular food. All of these issues have since been addressed by Colorado officials and regulations are now in place that enforce proper labelling. Shapes that are popular with children have been banned. Also all marijuana food must have a THC logo marked on it.
Struggling for the Science Behind Impaired Driving
Another factor is impaired driving. The legal driving limit in Colorado is 5 nanograms of THC but Hickenlooper warns that California residents may not agree on this number. Marijuana advocates have argued that calculations are inaccurate due to the fact that THC can stay in the blood for a long time after the high has worn off and that marijuana effects everybody’s biochemistry in a different way. But Hickenlooper insists that the state did rigorous testing and came to the conclusion that 5 nanograms was the most accurate estimation for establishing the legal limit.
Setting Up a New Seed to Sale Tax System
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges to overcome is one that California tax officials have already been complaining about for some time. Marijuana remains illegal on a federal level which makes banks unwilling to deal with anyone in the industry. This means marijuana businesses must pay their taxes in cash. Tax officials have complained about the problems they have collecting taxes as it is, so a new seed to sale tracking system will be necessary to ensure that officials are able to collect the tax from cultivators and the 15 percent sales tax.
In addition, Hickenlooper cautioned that systems must be in place to regulate pesticides. Lack of pesticide regulations has already resulted in a few headaches in legal states. While California faces a lot of work and challenges, the success of Colorado’s industry gives a glimpse of what lies in the future.