Two bills aiming to regulate California’s medical cannabis have been proposed lately in the state legislature. Though it may be that neither ends up passing, one thing is clear: state lawmakers are set on bringing greater supervision to an industry they see as working outside the system.
“California’s approach to medical marijuana regulation has been impotent and when you allow an industry to grow unregulated for as long as we have with cannabis, we are going to pay the price,” State Senator Mike McGuire (D – North Coast) said in an Associated Press article. “We are inundated with the impacts of this multi-billion dollar industry and we cannot sacrifice our communities, the environment and patient safety any longer.”
The marijuana industry is worth more than three times what it was three years ago and California is estimated to produce 49% of all legal marijuana sales in the country, according to the Huffington Post. And it’s just gotten too big to avoid regulation.
Several entities in the state are trying different tactics to rein in the industry. There are the two bills mentioned above. One from Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) will mandate that various state agencies develop a complex systems of regulations in the next three years. The legislation is designed to shape the recreational marijuana business expected to come to California after a ballot vote in 2016, but would regulate medical cannabis as well.
Among the changes to state policy called for by the bill would be the development of safety and potency testing of all cannabis products, new limits on the ability of ex-convicts and new residents to participate in the industry, the development of union-like labor rights for workers, and a standardized way to measure if a driver is too high to be behind the wheel.
“We are aware there will be an initiative on the ballot and if it is approved, we will have a good foundation, something to prevent some of the issues we have had with medical marijuana,” Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano told the AP.
Meanwhile, a state bill from Sen. McGuire lays out a design to create a new state agency that would license and regulate medical marijuana in the state while targeting “420 docs” who issue medical marijuana recommendations to patients without the thorough examination of a valid illness or symptom.
While the second of these two laws is not necessarily friendly to the cannabis industry, the first works in ideas on safe driving, quality control and environmental protection that the industry should be doing for itself if it wants to be taken seriously in the business world. It has been endorsed by the California Cannabis Industry Association.
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