While the State of California prepares regulations for the legal marijuana industry next year, some exciting new developments are underway. As lawmakers consider new standards for organic cannabis, tasting pot samples at local fairs and legal marijuana delivery in California may soon become reality for medical and recreational users alike.
The administration of Governor Jerry Brown is working with lawmakers to satisfy the desires of voters: It is actively creating a legal environment to merge the state’s well-known Medical Marijuana Program with recreational cannabis laws. Several new regulations are under consideration to protect public and consumer interests, while ensuring reliable and enforceable avenues of tax collection.
Medical Marijuana Rules in California
Currently, the law permits legitimate medical patients to use, possess and grow cannabis legally, provided they comply with regulations. Under the Medical Marijuana Program, anyone can become a cannabis-certified patient with a doctor’s letter of recommendation or a Medical Marijuana Card. It gives registered marijuana patients added protections and improved access to quality weed.
Recreational Marijuana Rules in California
Voters approved the use of recreational weed in California in 2016. Now, the law permits any adult to grow up to six plants at a time, possess either eight ounces of dry flowers or one ounce of concentrate and use cannabis as discreetly as possible. Before the recreational market truly becomes legal, however, lawmakers must first draft laws to regulate it the way it does the medical cannabis industry.
Tucked into the latest state budget are new cannabis provisions. Negotiations have been ongoing for months between Gov. Brown, top legislators, illegally operating canna-businesses, legal medical marijuana companies, and investors eager to enter the most lucrative pot market in the United States, and indeed the history of the world.
The largest challenge for lawmakers is how to move a previously prohibited, multi-billion dollar market from the darkness into the light. State officials have until January 1, 2018, to draft rules and regulations for this emerging industry. A legal cannabis market has an estimated sales value of billions, and regulators are setting guidelines for safety and quality standards and oversight.
The plan is to track all marijuana across the state, from seeds to fields to buds to stores and to consumers. Expectations are that recreational sales will become legal later this year already, thanks to innovations such as seed-to-sale software. Generally, the state plans to treat marijuana the way it does alcohol and legal adults can carry an ounce of weed on them and grow six of their own plants at home.
Future of Marijuana Delivery in California
Included in the state’s budget agreement are startup costs to get the cannabis industry regulated and generating income. The $118 million allocated to this includes the staff and technology necessary to issue recreational licenses, tighten regulations, and enforce compliance of them by January 1, 2018. The recreational cannabis market must be legal and operating by then.
Additionally, the state plans to make taxation and compliance as easy as possible for marijuana businesses. It wants to open a tax office in the heart of the cannabis-growing country, in San Francisco’s remote northern region. Taxpayers will not have to transport thousands of dollars long distances anymore, or at least not to pay their taxes or to comply with the law.
Because cannabis is still a Schedule 1 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act, it remains illegal under the United States government. Federal law prohibits weed companies from using credit cards to conduct transactions, open banking accounts, or use the federal banking system in any way actually. The new legislation includes approaches to combat this.
New rules for recreational marijuana companies have a basic legislative outline. Because California embraces small wineries and craft beers across its counties, it is possible to stimulate a new, artisanal industry within it. The only obstacle is the word “organic,” which state regulators must find ways to overcome. Under federal rules, it is illegal to attach “organic” to any pot products.
However, to include marijuana in the craft industry, cannabis goods must be organic and noted as such. To this end, the state will devise regulations for official varieties of cannabis and areas where they grow, called appellations. This will enable craft growers to distinguish their signature products according to specific growing conditions and strains, much the way wine- and beer-makers do.
If the state starts issuing interim licenses, businesses will be able to sell cannabis and provide people with samples at agricultural shows, county fairs, and marijuana festivals. The state will treat recreational weed the same way it does alcohol, so without medical proof, it will still be illegal to drive with open containers of concentrate or break similar drinking laws with cannabis instead.
Most excitingly, Gov. Brown and lawmakers agree that it should be legal for people to order marijuana delivery in California. An agreement is in place that will allow recreational customers to order weed from private sellers, including those without public storefronts. Cannabis delivery services are already available to medical patients, and recreational users can expect the same benefit before year’s end.