Medical Marijuana Regulation – The State Starts Gearing Up
January 22, 2016
On Tuesday, an informational hearing was held by the Assembly Business and Professions, Health, and Agriculture Committees regarding the State’s plans for rolling out new regulations on the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana in California. Representatives from the State included Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Chief Awet Kidane; Jim Houston, Undersecretary of Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA); and Karen Smith, Director of the Department of Public Health (DPH). While a lot of details couldn’t be shared so early in the process, all three officials said they were working on implementing the Medical Marijuana Regulatory and Safety Act (the Act) by January 1, 2018. An excellent background paper on medical marijuana regulation was provided at the informational hearing and can be found at: Assembly_Background_Paper
Given the impact of the Act’s implementation on counties, CSAC, the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) and the Urban Counties of California, have initiated a dialogue with these three departments to ensure that counties remain an active partner throughout the Act’s regulatory administrative process. In the meantime, interested counties should monitor the websites of DCA, DFA, DPH and the Board of Equalization (BOE) to keep informed of their activities. The following includes a brief description of their respective roles under the Act and links to their websites where counties can sign-up for email alerts.
California Department of Consumer Affairs
The Act establishes within the DCA the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (Bureau). The DCA and the Bureau are vested with the authority to issue licenses and regulate dispensaries, distributors, and transporters, and to provide oversight for the state’s regulatory framework. The DCA website at this point in time merely includes the Bureau’s FAQ for both consumers and businesses/potential licensees.
Department of Public Health
The Act assigns DPH with the responsibility to license and regulate laboratories and manufacturers. The DPH website for now does not include any substantive information regarding their role under the new laws. However, this would be the page to monitor.
California Department of Food and Agriculture
The Act requires CDFA to license cultivators in the state, establish conditions under which indoor and outdoor cultivation may occur, establish an electronic database to track marijuana from seed to sale, and assist other state agencies in protecting outdoor cultivation may occur, establish an electronic database to track marijuana from seed to sale, and assist other state agencies in protecting the environment and public health and safety.
CDFA is in the early stages of developing the environmental review and regulatory process. However, they have announced that it will include soliciting public comment, hosting public workshops across the state, and developing regulations for implementing this Act. The site to monitor is here.
State Board of Equalization
The State Board of Equalization (BOE) is another state entity to monitor given the Act’s requirement for them to adopt a commercial cannabis and cannabis products distribution tracking system. This will assist the BOE with sales and use tax collection at the dispensary level.