Lawmakers are heavily regulating marijuana in California. Marijuana delivery cannot occur within 600 feet of a school, and pot shops cannot operate there either. Retailers must install 24-hour surveillance cameras, invest in security, and close their doors by 10 p.m. These are just some of the laws governing a marijuana dispensary in California. Announced last year, the rulebook is in effect and it has other rules.
“I feel a big sigh of relief,” said Lori Ajax last year, chief of the Bureau of Cannabis Control. “It is a big milestone for us to release these regulations, but there is still a lot of work to be done. No rest for the weary.” Laws are in a state of constant flux. Regulators are changing them as the industry grows and new, unforeseen problems arise. This makes it difficult for companies to comply with the law easily.
Understanding Marijuana Delivery Laws
When announced last year, companies got to look at all 276 pages of regulations, which have been in effect since January 1. This is when the state began issuing operational licenses for companies in this multi-billion dollar market to start selling recreational weed. It is a comprehensive document controlling all aspects of the pot industry. A marijuana dispensary in California must comply with the following:
· Seed-To-Sale Tracking
All marijuana delivery companies must purchase seed-to-sale tracking software. Run by the state, this database tracks every movement of every legal seed from planting to final sale. Everyone must install this software, from cultivators to manufacturers, distributors, and retail outlets.
· Quality Testing
Laboratories must test every cannabis product before making it available to consumers. This ensures that what you buy is of only the highest quality. You will find the results of this analysis on the product labels themselves, including THC content, CBD levels, terpene profiles, and more.
· Portions for Edibles
All edibles must comply with THC limits enacted by lawmakers. Serving sizes cannot contain more than 10 milligrams of THC, such as a block of THC-infused chocolate. The entire product may not have more than 100 milligrams of THC in it, restricting edibles to 10 portions of 10 milligrams each.
· Free Samples
When handing out samples to prospective clients, a marijuana dispensary can only give them to legitimate medical marijuana patients or those licensed to take care of them. They may not offer free samples to recreational users, at least not without prior authorization.
· Fees Scale
The rulebook spelt fees out pretty clearly, which will work on a sliding scale based on productivity. The cost of an annual license for a small pot delivery company can range from $800 to a whopping $120,000 if its profits exceed $4.5 million a year, or if it offers multiple weed services, such as delivery and sales.
Cannabis companies will be able to host special events, provided they apply for and receive a specific license beforehand to do so. Events can include festivals and fairground gatherings, as examples. Depending on the purpose of the event, free recreational samples may be available, if license-permitted.
· Grace Period
Since the market is in its infancy, companies have a six-month grace period to comply with regulations. Until July 1, licensed companies can still sell untested, unlabeled products on their inventories, have products without child-resistant packaging, and unite their medical and recreational licenses. No longer.
The regulatory rulebook spells out laws for advertising. Companies may only advertise on platforms with a targeted audience of 21-years or older. At least 71.6 percent of viewers must be adults, and ads may not play where children may see or hear them. Product packaging must be bland and child-resistant too.
Selling Marijuana in California
Although regulatory changes continue to confuse every marijuana dispensary in California, these are the most important ones you should know about. Most established cannabis companies are well aware of potential compliance issues. Most recognized the writing on the wall last year already, and they used the draft rules to help them prepare for the legal market. They are ahead of their competitors this year.
Although in its infancy, the legal marijuana market in California is mimicking the same process that unraveled in other states that legalized cannabis before it. The laws did not fall out of the sky yesterday. They have been around for a year already. Laws will continue to change as the industry tackles demand, supply, and other potential regulatory issues.
Despite public hearings on the regulatory rulebook closing last year already, Ajax made it clear back then that the state will continue reviewing public opinions well into 2018, and it will use public sentiment to fine-tune laws where necessary. “I think they are good, but improvements can be made,” Ajax said. “We are going to get better once we start issuing licenses and see how implementation goes.”