On September 11, 2015, lawmakers in the California state Legislature approved of a controversial new plan that would license and regulate the growth, shipping and sale of medical marijuana throughout California. The plan was put in place in an effort to curb the current unruly marketplace that is the California pot industry.
A recent ballot initiative by California activists prompted the plan, as it would make recreational marijuana legal in the state of California. The ballot measure is seeking petitions throughout the state.
The co-authors of the three bills now approved of, include Five Assemblymen and one Senator. Working alongside Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff, the Assemblymen were successful in implementing three bills each with their own regulatory plan.
Because both the Senate and Assembly approved the bills, a new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BMMR) will be formed within the Department of Consumer Affairs. This department will oversee a multiagency licensing regulatory committee.
With the passing of the bill, the state and cities will have power over licensing dispensaries and to correspondingly reject their operation should they violate any city or state regulations.
Up and until now, local and state lawmakers have compared the state’s medical marijuana industry to the Wild West, wherein the government has very little power over dispensaries. Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) is one such lawmaker and a co-author of the bill.
Once in motion, the Department of Public Health and the California Department of Food and Agriculture will be the source of quality control for marijuana regulation. This is according to Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), another author of the plan.
According to Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), the compromise eliminates an excise tax that could have garnered over $60 million for policing and environmental protection for the state. This is still not out of the equation, as voters could take to the ballot box and impose taxes on growers if so desired.
In the North Coast district, the cultivation of marijuana has been illegal, primarily because of the extensive drought that has wreaked havoc on the state.
McGuire states, “Entire rivers are running dry as rogue marijuana grows have expanded diverting millions of gallons of water illegally, as the fourth year of this historic drought sets in.”
Concern for the condition of the state’s environment is the primary factor contributing to the pass of these three historic bills for California.
Director of the Sierra Club California Kathryn Phillips has this to say about the legislation, “This legislation is an important first step in cleaning up the mess created by free-for-all marijuana production in one of the most environmentally sensitive corners of California.”