California Cannabis Regulations Bring Many Questions for the Industry


The California cannabis industry was abuzz following the last-minute passage of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) that was passed by the California Assembly at the very end of the legislative session. Marijuana entrepreneurs were scrambling to read the MMRSA and have been digesting the implications since. Governor Jerry Brown signed the regulatory bill into law last fall and the New Year starts the implementation process that will be coming into focus over the coming months. California industry participants, experts and advocates will soon be meeting at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in February to discuss the latest developments. reports on the new regulations:

“Everyone is rushing to make sure that they got into compliance by the end of the year. But what does compliance mean and what does priority mean?,” said Bay Area cannabis Attorney Lauren Vazquez. “Who will get priority, the entity or the individuals? Will a nonprofit entity with priority have to stay a nonprofit? At this point we have no idea, it all has to be determined by the bureau and in the end there might not be any priority at all.”

For Jesse Stout, an attorney with Greenbridge Corporate Counsel recently appointed to the San Francisco Cannabis State Legalization Task Force, the largest part of the regulations taking effect was the forthcoming licensing processes at both the state and local level.

“For businesses, a big change in the 2015 Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act is ‘dual licensure’, the requirement to have both a state license and a local license by 1/1/18,” Stout said.

The statewide medical regulations were passed as a precursor to the legalization of marijuana for all adults as there is a very good chance that California voters will decide whether to open up cannabis commerce beyond just the medical market this November. The new marijuana rules and regulations will bring much uncertainty to many in the industry, while they will present great opportunity for those that can best navigate the new laws.

The challenge of adhering to both local and state rules will take a lot of time and resources, but businesses hoping to flourish in the world’s  8th largest economy have no choice but to prepare and do their due diligence. Unfortunately, regulatory hurdles also can make it harder for medical providers to serve sick and disabled patients, particularly those battling poverty as regulations can increase costs that businesses have to pass onto consumers. While the task of meeting these challenges is formidable, the reward for those that can effectively serve Golden State patients, and eventually non-patients, will be great and very much worth the effort.