200-Plus Participate in County Cannabis Summit
More than 200 supervisors and senior staff from counties all around the state converged on Sacramento Wednesday for a Cannabis Summit co-sponsored by CSAC, the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) and Urban Counties of California (UCC). The summit brought together many of the state’s leading experts to discuss the current status of the laws and regulations surrounding cannabis and the changes that are happening as we approach the full implementation of Proposition 64 in January.
“Cannabis comes with a once-in–a-generation responsibility and opportunity to develop an entirely new state and local policy area,” said CSAC First Vice President and Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez.
“Every one of our 58 counties is being impacted by the legalization of cannabis. Whether you are in a rural county like Humboldt or an urban county like Los Angeles, or a mix of the two like my home county in Kern, you are facing challenges involving cannabis-related issues.”
The agenda, presentations and other material from the summit are available here. CSAC also video recorded the cannabis summit and will make the recordings available on our website soon. In addition, CSAC recently conducted a regional meeting in Humboldt County that focused on Cannabis issues. Video recordings from three panel discussions from that event are available here.
While the state is pursuing its regulatory process and setting up a licensing program for cultivators, processors and sellers, many counties are also working through how they want to regulate the industry at the local level. “The summit also provided an opportunity for county leaders to communicate with each other,” said CSAC Legislative Representative Cara Martinson. “Counties want to reflect local preferences when it comes to regulating and taxing cannabis, but it can be helpful to know how neighboring jurisdictions are approaching this issue.”
The summit breakout sessions focused on four main topic areas: taxes, banking, and financing; working with the cannabis industry; cultivation and environmental considerations; and licensing and land use. The subject matter was right in line with what San Mateo County Supervisor and UCC Vice-Chair Carole Groom was hoping to bring back to her county.
“We are in a learning process. We are going to as many meetings as we can. We put stakeholder groups together and we’re having regular meetings, especially on growing, cultivation, and revenue,” said Groom. “I’m really glad we’re having this conference because we’re especially interested in the banking piece, the whole financing aspect.”
During the luncheon program, attendees heard an insightful discussion of lessons learned by representatives of Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize recreational cannabis. Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s first cannabis czar, and Washington State Association of Counties Executive Director Eric Johnson provided insight into how their respective states – and counties – have been dealing with legalized cannabis-related issues.
The summit provided a timely opportunity for county supervisors and staff to bring information back home to colleagues and constituents. “Whether discussing the legal and regulatory landscape, or the cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale, cannabis is dominating the discussion at the local government level,” said RCRC Chair and Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams. “I know in our county, it dominates (board meetings) pretty much every single week. We have someone coming in every week talking to us about it.”
Alex Traverso from the State Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation said the state hopes to go public with a package of new regulations within a few months. “We’re shooting for late fall for the new regulations, but the process will obviously be a little different than what we saw with the medical regulation,” said Traverso. “It’s going to be a five-day comment period instead of 45 days because of the emergency authority we were given to get these regulations done by our mandated date.” Proposition 64 takes full effect on January 1, 2018.