California unveils marijuana industry regulations

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The largest legal marijuana marketplace in the United States is taking shape – at least on paper.

California regulators released long-awaited rules Thursday that will govern the state’s emerging cannabis sector  from fields to sales.

The regulations have been in development for many months and in some cases covered familiar ground: At first, the state will issue only temporary licenses to growers and retailers, provided they have a local permit to open for business.

Other changes appeared significant:

Preliminary information from the state indicated a maximum 1-acre cap would be set on most cultivators. In what would be a major shift, the regulations did not include that language, placing limits on only certain growers’ licenses.

The state must also ensure its own regulations don’t violate any local rules.

California’s rules come just 45 days before legal sales can begin, and many problems remain, including:

  • Some predict high taxes will drive consumers to the black market.
  • Most banks won’t do business with cannabis companies.
  • Los Angeles and San Francisco are among many cities without local rules in place.

Meanwhile, big gaps loom in the system intended to move cannabis from the field to distribution centers, then to testing labs and eventually retail shops.

In general, California will treat cannabis like alcohol, allowing people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce and grow six marijuana plants at home.

Come January, the newly legalized recreational sales will be merged with the state’s two-decade-old medical marijuana market, which is also coming under much stronger regulation.

The new recreational sector will have a market potential of $4.5 billion-$5 billion, according to Marijuana Business Daily projections.

Three state agencies – the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health – all released revised rules for California’s marijuana industry.

Their respective regulations can be viewed here:

Bureau of Cannabis Control

Department of Food and Agriculture

Department of Public Health

Summary fact sheets from each department are available here:

Bureau of Cannabis Control

Department of Food and Agriculture

Department of Public Health

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily