California releases medical marijuana rules

May 1, 2017

More than two decades after legalizing medical marijuana and just months before recreational pot shops are due to start opening, the state of California issued comprehensive rules for the medical cannabis industry. [SF Gate]

The rules, which are now a few days into a 45-day comment period prior to becoming law, aim to make medical marijuana cleaner and safer. Medical pot businesses will face rising regulatory compliance costs, but the increasing expenses are widely seen as a welcome tradeoff for bringing law and order to the industry.

If the new rules become law, all medical cannabis will have to be lab-tested and tracked from seed to sale. Edible pot products would be able to contain a maximum of 10 milligrams of THC per serving and a maximum of 100 milligrams per package.

Medical marijuana dispensaries would face new restrictions, such as only being allowed to operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dispensaries would also have to stop giving away free samples.

Patients would be allowed to buy a maximum of 8 ounces of cannabis flowers a day. Additionally, 42 percent of indoor pot-farm electricity would have to come from renewable sources.

Regulators say medical marijuana business owners could see compliance costs increase by $524 per pound. Marijuana sells wholesale for about $800 to $2,500 per pound.

Overall, compliance costs could increase by $125,000 a year for a small operation and by $310,000 a year for an average pot business. Prices for patients may rise in the short-term but are expected to fall in the long-term.

California’s medical pot market generates about $2.4 billion a year in revenue. There are approximately 1,000 medical marijuana stores in the state and tens of thousands of growers.

The proposed medical marijuana regulatory scheme does not effect recreational use and sales of cannabis. State lawmakers hope to align the rules for the medical and recreational pot markets through legislation later this year. However, there are several special interest groups threatening to derail the process.

California must begin issuing recreational pot shop licenses by Jan. 1, 2018.

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Rules are one thing, enforcement another. 90% or more of the dispensaries and delivery services in the state are operating without a license because the authorities have neither the enforcement resources nor the prosecutorial or political backing to shut them down. To think that enforcement capability will magically appear to enforce “seed to sale” and “milligrams per serving” regulations on what are essentially moonshiners is just silly.

The authorities have been 10 steps behind reality for 20 years, and obviously still are.

Like most crime all you have to do is follow the money. But in this case it’s the government who is in it for the money. Marijuana has been voted in by a majority of the citizens and now it is legal. No one has determined if it’s any worse than alcohol or the current diamonds of our county, wine, beer and cider. Every sponsored event is accompanied by, wine, beer and/or cider. With it being legal and nothing determined that it is worse than wine, beer and cider why is it being treated different with new and higher taxes and fees?

What would the discussion be if these fees and taxes were placed on vineyards, tasting rooms, wine bars, the boutique beer bars and the cider bars?

I’m not an advocate of legal marijuana, with the exception of medical use, but if it’s legal then it’s legal and should be treated as such. This is just a perfect case of government leeches sucking society of every penny they can for their self benefits.

And again, no mention about bringing the cannabis industry into the 21 first century, financially. The federal government is holding all of the banks hostage by not allowing cannabis businesses to bank their cash or to take credit/debit cards, so we need to establish a Bank of California, like North Dakota did almost a hundred years ago, and the cannabis industry could safely operate their banking needs there, eliminating the need to operate in cash only, making the businesses safer to operate and to work at.