Committee Examines Local Perspective on Cannabis
February 23, 2017
Another week, another informational hearing about cannabis! This time, the Assembly Committee on Local Government brought in local experts, including people from Humboldt and Monterey Counties, to delve into the issue of how local governments are implementing recreational cannabis usage in the wake of Prop 64.
While both the medical and recreational methods for regulating cannabis usage emphasize local control and regulations, there are some key differences, including the interaction of how state and local licenses are issued: the medical cannabis regulations specify that an applicant must present their local license to the state regulatory authorities when applying for the state license, but the process is not as clear under the recreational use.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office provided an overview of cannabis regulations in California, beginning with the Compassionate Use Act approved by voters as Prop 215 (1996) to legalize medical marijuana; SB 420 (2003; Vasconcellos) which created the structure of collectives or cooperatives to cultivate marijuana for medical use; the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act of 2015, which created a regulatory structure for cannabis businesses including licensing and enforcement; and the Adult Use of Marijuana Act approved by voters as Prop 64 in 2016 which legalized recreational use of cannabis for adults over age 21. The LAO emphasized the focus on local government regulation and flexibility throughout the history of cannabis regulations in California.
The committee heard from local representatives including Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn and Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Dolf. They spoke about land use and code enforcement as well as local branding and product quality and potential positive economic impacts for the region. The Yolo County Agricultural Commissioner, John Young, spoke to their framework for medical cannabis cultivation – they began licensing in 2016 – and challenges with cash handling and ordinance crafting.
Mary Zeeb, Treasurer-Tax Collector of Monterey County, also described the issues in dealing with large amounts of cash and their local process of developing regulations that ultimately permit only indoor greenhouse cannabis cultivation of cannabis. City representatives included Councilman Mark Wheetley from the City of Arcata and Randi Knott, Director of Government Affairs for the City of Sacramento.
The Committee also heard from a panel regarding upcoming challenges with implementation. Speakers included CSAC, RCRC, the League of California Cities, and representatives.
The CSAC Cannabis Working Group meets in Sacramento on Thursday, March 16. This group will help develop additional CSAC policy on cannabis issues and will review active legislation and proposed regulations. Please contact Betsy Hammer (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in participating.