The bill also comes as residents will likely vote on legalizing marijuana for recreational use next year. As the current medical marijuana industry is regulated through a patchwork of city and local ordinances, Brown and other legislators have been trying to mitigate the concerns of industry lobbyists, law enforcement, local administrators, and opposition lawmakers in advance of the likely 2016 ballot measure.
After nearly 20 years after becoming the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, the California state Assembly passed three bills on Thursday that creates an intensive state-wide regulatory system “from seed to smoke.” The bill will now move to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Brown, as well as the Democratic leadership in the state senate, has already given the bill’s blessing. The bill’s passage was an 11th– hour agreement, coming ahead of Friday’s legislative deadline on the measure that had been discussed for years. Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), who wrote the main piece of legislation, said that his bill’s passage “is the result of an unprecedented stakeholder process in which my colleagues and I brought everyone to the table, from medical marijuana businesses to law enforcement and patient advocates, to create a comprehensive regulatory framework for the state’s billion-dollar medical marijuana industry.”
The bill will set up an intricate framework for medical marijuana sales, licensing, and cultivation standards. Like many other sensitive industries, the new requirements will require detailed labeling as well as product tracking systems like bar codes and shipping manifests. It will also require 17 different categories for licenses; and the language in the bill classifies marijuana as an agricultural product, which means California’s Department of Food and Agriculture and Department of Public Health will also be providing input on oversight. The legislation also creates the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BMMR) to issue licenses and to administer the new regulations. The bureau will be a subdivision of the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
The bills also come as residents will likely vote on legalizing marijuana for recreational use next year. As the current medical marijuana industry is regulated through a patchwork of city and local ordinances, Brown and other legislators have been trying to mitigate the concerns of industry lobbyists, law enforcement, local administrators, and opposition lawmakers in advance of the likely 2016 ballot measure. The bills do allow for some degree of local sovereignty, especially in Los Angeles, where they contain language to allow the city to keep its existing regulatory structure voted on by residents. The legislation also allows for officials to place measures on local ballots to create taxes and other fees to help pay for the cost of regulation. Nate Bradley, founder of the California Cannabis Industry Association, said about the passage of the bills, “We are very excited that the Legislature made it a main priority this year to get it done.” Bonta agrees saying, “We knew it had to be done this year.” Bradley did not go as far as to fully endorse the measure, however, saying he wanted to see the details, which still remain unclear, before giving it his official approval.
ABC News – Lisa Leff/Associated Press
Los Angeles Times – Patrick McGreevy
Sacramento Bee – Christopher Cadelago and Alexei Koseff