Nearly 20 years after voters made California the first state in the nation to legalize the medical use of marijuana, Gov.Jerry Brown on Friday signed a package of bills to regulate the multibillion-dollar medicinal-cannabis industry.
The stringent and comprehensive regulations create an enforceable framework for governing virtually every aspect of the business in California — from licensing and taxation to quality control, shipping, packaging and pesticide standards. The lack of regulations for the booming medical pot business has been frustrating to growers, dispensary operators, local governments, law enforcement and patient groups since 1996 when California voters approved Proposition 215, the law that made it legal for doctors to recommend pot to their patients.
In the void, what has emerged is a hazy, semi-legitimate industry with no uniformity between jurisdictions. The regulations seek to change that. “This new structure will make sure patients have access to medical marijuana, while ensuring a robust tracking system,” the governor said in his signing message. “This sends a clear and certain signal to our federal counterparts that California is implementing robust controls not only on paper, but in practice.”
Whether you agree with the legislation or not, this is a historic day for California and cannabis. Keep your eyes open as this controversial topic will undoubtedly continue to evolve over the next 24 months.