More than 600 people applied to be part of the state’s first Cannabis Advisory Committee, as California scrambles to come up with detailed regulations for its massive medical and recreational marijuana industries.
The Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation announced it was taking applications for the new committee in early February, calling for people from across the state and a wide variety of backgrounds to get in on controlling what the future of cannabis looks like in California. The bureau had such high interest that it extended the application deadline once before cutting it off March 30.
Bureau spokesman Alex Traverso said they received a diverse mix of applicants, in line with their request to include people from the cannabis industry along with local regulators, law enforcement, medical professionals and more.
“We’re starting the process of sorting through them all and reviewing and trying to figure out who we’d like to talk to a bit more,” he said.
That process should take a few weeks, Traverso said. They expect to announce appointments to the committee by early May.
By the end of April, Traverso said the bureau expects to release a draft copy of detailed regulations covering medical marijuana in California.
A mandate to regulate the market for the first time since Californians voted to legalize medical marijuana in 1996 came down from Gov. Jerry Brown through a package of bills signed in 2015 known as the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. The laws call for the state to create a licensing system for all marijuana businesses, testing standards, pesticide controls and more by Jan. 1, 2018.
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By the fall, Traverso said the bureau expects to release a draft of regulations covering the state’s recreational cannabis market.
Voters legalized marijuana for all adults on Nov. 8 under Proposition 64. The measure also gave the state until Jan. 1, 2018 to come up with detailed regulations for that side of the industry.
Those regulations should be largely similar to the medical marijuana guidelines, though there are some key differences between laws governing the two systems. Medical marijuana laws state that an independent distributor must take products from the grower or manufacturer to the retailer, for example, while Prop. 64 would allow those producers to deliver the products themselves. There are also differences in how large cannabis farms could be and how many different types of licenses each business owner could hold.
Brown wants to rectify those differences as much as possible to avoid confusion and conflict between the two markets. So the governor’s office recently released a 79-page document that proposes solutions for rectifying those conflicts. Traverso said his bureau will use that document as a guidebook for developing its regulations.