Pubdate: Fri, 25 Sep 2015
Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Susan Shelley
Note: Susan Shelley is a San Fernando Valley author, a former 
television associate producer and twice a Republican candidate for 
the California Assembly.


California's medical marijuana industry may soon be craving pain 
relief instead of selling it.

The state Legislature recently passed the Medical Marijuana 
Regulation and Safety Act, a combination of three laws that together 
will impose a massive, multi-agency regulatory framework on the 
cultivation, distribution and sale of cannabis.

Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry 
Association, said his group lobbied Sacramento for "sensible 
regulations." In a panel discussion presented by the Republican 
Liberty Caucus of California at the recent state GOP convention, 
Bradley said he tells his members it's better than "having your doors 
kicked in."

The new laws abolish collectives and cooperatives. Instead there will 
be state licenses for commercial growers, distributors and sellers, 
and additional licenses required in cities and counties that choose 
to be "wet" jurisdictions instead of "dry."

The Wild West days are over. From now on, the medical marijuana 
industry will have to answer to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, 
the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Food and 
Agriculture, the Board of Equalization, the Department of Public 
Health, the Department of Consumer Affairs, Cal OSHA, the Department 
of Pesticide Regulation and the new chief of the Bureau of Medical 
Marijuana Regulation.

Growers will be assessed fees and fines for any impact on streams, 
rivers, lakes, fish or wildlife. They'll be required to label each 
plant with a government-assigned "unique identifier," part of a 
"track and trace" program that follows every product from seed to sale.

Weighing and measuring devices will be strictly regulated. Facilities 
will be required to have adequate security systems to prevent theft. 
New tax reporting requirements will log the movement of commercial 
cannabis and cannabis products through the distribution chain, 
capturing names, addresses, license numbers, transaction dates and taxes due.

There will be new regulations for production and labeling, pesticide 
standards, requirements for inspections, batch testing and 
tamper-evident packaging, workplace safety standards, and enforcement 
measures against doctors who engage in "excessive recommending."

And unions have entered the picture. Licensed facilities with more 
than 20 employees will be required to enter into a "labor peace 
agreement" and all growers are required to use a "licensed 
transporter" to get their products to the market. Advertisement

All government departments may charge fees to cover the cost of 
implementing the new regulations, and that's on top of license fees and taxes.

Welcome to California.

The new laws have complicated plans for a 2016 ballot initiative to 
legalize marijuana completely. Dale Gieringer, director of the 
California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of 
Marijuana Laws (NORML), said two teams of lawyers are working on 
drafting the language for the initiative, which now has to be written 
"over" the new medical marijuana regulations.

But the regulations may not survive in court. A lawsuit announced by 
the American Medical Marijuana Association says the new laws 
illegally modify Proposition 215, the voter initiative which 
legalized medical marijuana in 1996.

Making the situation even more tangled, marijuana remains illegal 
under federal law. That means a licensed California business can 
comply with environmental and health regulations, safety and 
packaging rules, union contracts, tax collections, and laws against 
marketing to children - and still have the doors kicked in by federal agents.

Here's a prediction: This story ends with a thriving, statewide, 
tax-free, illegal drug trade.

Or, as the Sundance Kid said to Butch Cassidy, "Well, we've gone 
straight. What do we try now?"
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom