Cannabis In California
On November 8, 2016, voters passed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), legalizing the adult use of cannabis in California. The passage of Prop. 64 has had a major impact on California’s cannabis policy, which prior to the vote had only allowed for medicinal cannabis use under Proposition 215 in 1996, and most recently the 2015 Medical Cannabis and Regulatory Safety Act (MCRSA).
Since the passage of Proposition 64 in November 2016, policy makers in California have taken several legislative, regulatory and budget actions to begin implementing California’s new cannabis policy. The most recent and important change in California’s cannabis policy occurred in June 2017 when the Legislature passed SB 94, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). SB 94 combined the regulatory frame work of medical cannabis (MCRSA) together with the regulatory framework for commercial cannabis (AUMA) – creating one state licensing system for commercial medical and adult use businesses.
The passage of SB 94 also altered the timelines of several regulatory rulemaking packages of key licensing agencies that were already in progress in June of 2017. The Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing program, the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Cannabis Control, and the Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch were undertaking rulemaking packages for commercial medicinal cannabis permits at the time that SB 94 passed. Now, these three key licensing agencies will undergo an emergency rulemaking process to create regulations to issue temporary permits under SB 94 for both medicinal and commercial cannabis permits on January 2018. These emergency regulations will incorporate the public comments, including comments from CSAC, that each of the agencies received for their medical cannabis permit rulemaking. These emergency regulations are expected to be released in late November 2017, with a standard rulemaking process and public input process to follow
Throughout this process, CSAC has been a vocal advocate for protecting the ability of local government to make its own decisions on local cannabis policy and for integrating local regulatory programs within a larger state licensing system. Therefore, SB 94 contains strong local control measures consistent with Prop 64 and the MCRSA. These measures allow for broad local regulatory and taxation authority giving local governments the tools to decide how best to regulate – and impose local taxes on – the retail sale and cultivation of both medicinal and commercial cannabis in their respective communities.
Counties have a significant stake in shaping the broader statewide landscape of cannabis regulation in California as it will undoubtedly have a significant impact on local government operations.
Cara Martinson, Senior Legislative Representative, Federal Affairs Manager
Nick Cronenwett, Legislative Analyst