CSAC Bulletin Article

Cannabis Summit Connects Local Regulators with Industry Experts

January 19, 2017

Local officials heard about the cannabis industry directly from the experts at a summit hosted by the California Association of Environmental Health Administrators (CAEHA) this week. CSAC Legislative Representative Cara Martinson provided opening remarks about the history of cannabis regulation in California, and also moderated the morning sessions on the first day of the summit. CSAC would like to thank CAEHA for hosting this informative event.

While the summit addressed many important issues, a key theme emerged: the cannabis industry covers a vast array of products and practices and includes a spectrum from professional operations to bad actors. Overall, there is a major knowledge gap that needs to be addressed. To address this issue as the industry emerges into a regulated, legal one, some participants suggested best practices with a focus on education and relationship building between industry, local officials, and stakeholders.

A panel discussion provided industry perspective on cannabis cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale. Industry representatives included a cannabis farmer, a consultant who also owns a dispensary owner and manufactures a line of edibles, and the owner and lab manager for a collective that makes cannabis concentrates. This group of experts provided an extensive educational overview of the cultivation process, including indoor, outdoor, and greenhouse operations, and then the process of what happens to the plant after it is harvested. Comments and discussion ranged from pesticides to market trends to zoning suggestions and addressing concerns related to public safety and environmental concerns.

The legal and regulatory landscape is changing rapidly. The Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act was passed in 2015, Prop 64 legalizing recreational use was passed in 2016, and additional bills dealing with various aspects of cannabis have already been introduced in the 2017 legislative session, and state agencies are working diligently to promulgate rules and regulations as required by law. On top of all the state regulation, the framework leaves a great deal of room for local decisions and control, and the impact of the federal government remains an open question.

CSAC is actively involved in the current legislative efforts. Counties are welcome to submit questions, concerns, or suggestions for cleanup or clarifications in language to Cara Martinson (cmartinson@counties.org) or Betsy Hammer (bhammer@counties.org). In addition, CSAC will be hosting regional meetings on the topic of cannabis as well as a larger event to be held in Sacramento.

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