Another Informational Hearing on Cannabis
February 9, 2017
The Assembly Health, Agriculture, and Business and Professions Committees held a joint meeting on cannabis this week. Members heard from a panel of government officials with responsibility for creating and developing cannabis policy and regulations, including the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, the Department of Justice, the Highway Patrol, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Department of Public Health.
Much like last week’s oversight hearing on the senate side, department officials responded to blunt questions from legislators about regulation development and provided reassurance that the process is on track and state agencies will be ready in January 2018 as required by law. Agencies reported that the process has been infused with a high level of coordination, but acknowledged that there will be some transitional periods to deal with as licenses and other parts of the policy are rolled out over time.
The local role in cannabis policy was a hot topic. The hearing included a panel on the local perspective, including CSAC as well as other representatives of local governments. State officials emphasized that the state regulations will set the floor for local governments, and locals may choose to provide more strict rules if they wish. Other hot topics of discussion included concerns about environmental contamination, packaging, the need for additional research, the need for banking and financial institutions, interactions with federal laws and enforcement, and public health – particularly for manufactured products infused with cannabis.
Counties should plan to see draft regulations on the medical cannabis side of things a couple months, while recreational cannabis regulations won’t be released until September, once the legislative session has faded away. Environmental impact statements and reports will also be released in 2017.CSAC will be an active participant in the regulatory review process and will keep counties up to date.
Counties and other local entities have a great deal of local control with the implementation of recreational cannabis usage. CSAC is convening a Cannabis Working Group to discuss these issues and to vet current legislative and regulatory efforts. Please contact Cara Martinson or Betsy Hammer to participate in this group.