California, the largest state in the U.S. to have legalized marijuana, is having a tough time building the infrastructure for their new cannabis industry. While medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996, recreational marijuana wasn’t passed until the 2016 vote. The recreational market has had an array of issues getting up and running so a meeting was held a few weeks ago in Los Angeles to discuss some of these concerns. Cannabis business owners, industry lawyers, activists and consumers talked with California’s marijuana regulator, Lori Pax, about the issues. The concerns were far reaching, including complaints about the lack of licenses, processes for marijuana testing, big business pushing out smaller companies and delivery services for those outside of an area with banned local marijuana sales.
Since then, added complications have been factored into the equation. The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) has proposed a rule that would allow licensed dispensaries and delivery services to allow the companies to deliver to areas that have banned physical marijuana sales. The BCC are stating the law on the subject already exists. The law allows any licensed company to deliver to “any jurisdiction within the state.” Now the California Police Chiefs Association have joined the League of California Cities and United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council to make a website and launch a campaign to block this rule. Their website, called Stop Wandering Weed, shows a group of children excitedly running to a delivery truck as it pulls up to their school.
Intent of Delivery Services
Fortunately, the image is fantasy since licensed delivery services are still held to the same level of compliance of the law to which any retail store would be subject. Pulling up to any school would be illegal and buyers would need to show valid ID and have it recorded. The delivery services are intended for those who are elderly, sick or unable to access a store. The group intend on fighting the implementation of this new rule.
How California Cannabis Looks at the End of the Legislative Season
California’s 2018 legislative session also ended on August 31. There were some positive movements for the marijuana industry, including changes to the provisional licensing process as well as more clarity on standard deductions cannabis businesses can take on state taxes. Unfortunately, the state cannabis excise tax rate was left as is and there was a failed attempt to get a state-run marijuana industry banking system in place.
Optimism Moving Forward
According to Marijuana Business Daily, Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA), and Amy Jenkins, lead lobbyist for the organization, have said that lawmakers are taking marijuana industry issues much more seriously now given its contribution to California economy. Jenkins, in particular, described the legislative session, confirming “a mixed bag is fair, but … I think it’s important to emphasize that … what we saw were very significant changes as far as perceptions in the legislature.”
While progress is slow and much needs to be untangled and organized in the state, the recreational marijuana industry and its regulators continue to move forward, breaking new ground.