The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) goes into effect on January 1, 2016, enacting a slew of new MMJ regulations. The only problem is that not many really understand what those regulations are. The act will give priority status in the new certification system to providers who can prove they’re in “good standing” with their local municipality before the end of the year, but “good standing” isn’t a legal term in this case, so marijuana business people are left to make up their own definition of it and hope that the state of California shares that definition.
Stoners have the stigmatized stereotype of being flakey, exhibiting vague and incoherent logic, and being indecisive as a result of all that THC in their brain, but what’s the excuse for cannabis lawmakers who show the same fuzzy thinking, especially when it means medical marijuana providers don’t know if they’re legal or not?
Clarification from state representatives has been less than helpful in some cases. State Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) penned the “good standing” clause of the MMRSA. His senior legislative aide Max Mikalonis told the Eureka Times-Standard that a “piece of government paper” stating compliance from a regional authority would probably do the trick.
But what authority? As Cannabis Now Magazine points out, many regional jurisdictions don’t have any system in place for certifying marijuana practices. So, a note from a local authority would have the same legal weight as a note from your doctor. The state can choose to recognize it or not at their discretion. MMJ businesses that get it wrong due to this lack of clarity will miss out on the MMRSA priority status certifications.
Thoughts on the subject, even among experts, is contradictory and unsure. Well-known marijuana attorney Omar Figueroa told Cannabis Now that obtaining a resale permit from the state’s Board of Equalization (BOE) won’t official make a marijuana business in “good standing,” “Registering with the BOE may make it look like at least you’re trying.” However, obtaining a seller’s permit “could be construed as an admission of guilt,” according to Figueroa, since “selling” weed is still illegal in California’s medical marijuana market (cannabis products are obtained by patients from caregivers on a “donation” basis).
So, as ever, the cannabis market is in a limbo. The more legal things get, the more illegal they get to. The same state has seen state-legal dispensaries be raided by the feds and hash oil blasters who sell a legal product be jailed for manufacturing it. As the MMRSA goes into effect and recreational legalization looms on the horizon, the wrinkles in cannabis laws are likely to deepen before they clear up.