California issues draft regulations for medical marijuana industry

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California regulators released draft regulations on Friday governing the sale and use of medical marijuana in an attempt to bring uniform rules to the state’s free-wheeling MMJ market.

The draft rules – written by three state agencies – would govern the cultivation, testing, distribution and sale of medical cannabis in the nation’s largest MMJ market.

They cover everything from license fees for various MMJ businesses, to the amount of medical cannabis that dispensaries can sell per patient as well as dosing for edibles, according to the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times.

Among the proposed rules:

  • The state would prioritize license applications for existing MMJ businesses operating in good standing with their local city or county and were open by Jan. 1, 2016.
  • Applicants for cultivation, transportation and dispensary licenses would need to undergo a background check.
  • License holders who transport cannabis between cultivation facilities and dispensaries would be barred from owning cannabis inventory.
  • Dispensaries would be required to use a track-and-trace system.
  • Edibles must be sold in child-resistant packaging and can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC per serving, and up to 100 milligrams per package.

Of the 14 proposed cultivation license fees, the annual costs range from $560 for smaller nurseries to $38,350 for medium indoor grows.

The nonrefundable application fees range from $60 for nurseries to $4,260 for medium indoor facilities. Also included is a vertical integration license, which would allow up to three dispensaries and four acres of canopy for cultivation under one license – although the details for that permit are limited.

California’s MMJ industry has been an regulatory mishmash for over two decades, with regulation varying by municipality.

State lawmakers must still craft rules to combine the new MMJ regulations with a voter-approved initiative legalizing adult-use cannabis, the Los Angeles Times reported. Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this month released his own plan for merging the rec and medical regulatory systems.

Hezekiah Allen, president of the California Growers Association, called the draft regulations “a major step toward a well-regulated cannabis industry,” according to the Associated Press.

AP reported that the draft regulations are expected to take months to review and refine. The next step is a 45-day public comment period. The rules will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2018, when recreational marijuana business regulations are also slated to kick in.