Gov. Jerry Brown revealed a proposal last week to simplify statewide rules that govern medical and recreational marijuana sales and production, in anticipation of the launch of the recreational cannabis industry in California in 2018. The proposal, if approved by the Legislature, would make it easier to start a pot business in the Golden State.
"Brown’s administration has designed a tight, comprehensive regulatory framework that protects consumers, workers, public health, the environment and small business stakeholders, while ensuring an inclusionary framework that opens up access for low-income people and communities of color," Lynne Lyman, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement.
Under the proposal, only state licenses would be required for marijuana businesses, unless local municipalities opt to require local licenses as well. State licenses would not be available to entrepreneurs who want to set up shop in municipalities where marijuana businesses are banned.
Los Angeles voters recently approved Measure M, which was placed on the ballot by the City Council. It allows the city to issue local licenses for marijuana businesses.
"L.A. can decide to do its own licensing," DPA staff attorney Jolene Forman says. "It's just not mandated."
Advocates had been concerned that the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), passed by the state Legislature in 2015, would put all the dispensaries in Los Angeles out of business because it required local licenses — something City Hall did not grant — by Jan. 1. Measure M fixed that problem. But now it might not be a problem.
The governor's proposal also favored the licensing of smaller "microbusinesses" by streamlining the permitting process to ensure a broader array of would-be pot entrepreneurs have an opportunity to get in on the green rush.
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"Somebody could grow small amounts of marijuana, process in small quantities and sell it in their own retail store," Forman says. "This decreases barriers to entry for smaller businesses. It would also allow more diversity in the market."
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR), which regulates medical and recreational pot, would get a name change to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, spokesman Alex Traviso said via email.
The Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, a group of local marijuana businesses that has lobbied City Hall to legalize pot delivery, seemed fairly happy with the governor's proposal.
"We are closely reviewing the proposal but applaud the state for proposing much-needed reconciliations between medical and recreational laws," task force director Ruben Honig said via email. "L.A.'s cannabis industry is one of the world's largest, and we must have a system that's clear, streamlined and allows businesses and patients to thrive."