Pubdate: Sat, 09 Jan 2016
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Ukiah Daily Journal
Author: Adam Randall


Gov. Jerry Brown laid out his proposed $170.7 billion budget this 
week for the 2016-17 fiscal year, and for the first time, detailed 
funding for the newly enacted Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety 
Act, which was designed by lawmakers as a complete regulatory process 
over the medical marijuana industry.

The new regulations were initially financed with a loaned amount of 
$5.4 million in general funding from the current fiscal year's budget 
that is due to close at the beginning of July.

This loaned amount will be repaid once the Bureau of Medical 
Marijuana Regulation begins licensing and collecting fees, according 
to Russ Heimerich, deputy secretary of communications for the 
Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. Under the 
regulations, licensing won't be required within the medical marijuana 
industry until 2018.

Brown's 2016-17 budget allocates a total of $24.6 million in state 
funding, broken down as $12.8 million in general funding, $10.6 
million from the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Fund, 
also expected to be borrowed from the general fund for the 
time-being, and $1.2 million in special fund revenues, which are 
generally produced from state collected tax levies and vehicle taxes 
and fees, for example.

Specific funding proposals include six state departments that will be 
invested in regulating the medical marijuana industry. It is also 
projected that 126 job positions will be required to enforce the regulations.

North Coast Sen. Mike McGuire, who wrote Senate Bill 643 as part of 
the overall regulatory package, was pleased Thursday to see progress 
in the governor's budget process.

"His proposal is focused on regulation implementation and 
significantly enhanced resources for public safety and environmental 
protection," McGuire said.

Department of Consumer Affairs)) Tasked with creating the new Bureau 
of Medical Marijuana Regulation, which will do the actual regulating 
of the new laws by overseeing transportation, storage, distribution 
and the sale of medical marijuana statewide. The bureau will also 
manage licensing, investigation, enforcement and will coordinate with 
local governments, according to the budget summary.

The Department of Consumer Affairs was allocated $1.6 million in 
fiscal year 2015-16 general funds to begin, with Brown proposing to 
allocate $3.8 million from the Medical Marijuana Regulation and 
Safety Act Fund in which 25 positions will be needed for the 2016-17 
fiscal year.

Department of Public Health )) Will oversee the licensing and 
regulation of medical marijuana product manufacturing and testing 
laboratories. The Department of Public Health received $457,000 in 
2015-16 general funding, with the department slated to receive $3.4 
million from the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Fund for 
2016-17, along with 14 dedicated positions.

Department of Food and Agriculture)) The department's responsibility, 
according to the budget summary, will be to "provide Medical Cannabis 
Cultivation Program administrative oversight, promulgate regulations, 
issue medical marijuana cultivation licenses and perform an 
Environmental Impact Report," in which the governor tentatively 
budgeted $3.4 million in 2016-17, also to cover 18 positions. The 
department received $3.3 million from the general fund loan in fiscal 
year 2015-16.

Additionally, the Department of Food and Agriculture will be assisted 
by the Board of Equalization in establishing a "seed-to-sale" program 
to report the movement of medicinal marijuana products throughout the 
industry's distribution system in which identifying numbers will be utilized.

Department of Pesticide Regulation)) The department will develop 
regulations for medical marijuana cultivators using pesticides. The 
new budget calls for $700,000 and three positions.

Department of Fish and Wildlife)) The DFW is expected to expand and 
make permanent its multi-agency taskforce that was created in 2014 
"to address environmental impacts of medical marijuana cultivation 
and work with the State Water Resources Control Board and Department 
of Food and Agriculture to regulate water diversions," according to 
the 2016-17 state budget proposal.

Accordingly, a $7.6 million general fund allocation is proposed for 
2016-17, along with 31 positions.

State Water Resources Control Board)) The SWRCB would receive $5.2 
million from the general fund and $472,000 from the Waste Discharge 
Permit Fund for 2016-17, in which 35 positions would be needed in 
developing and implementing regulatory standards pertaining to the 
environmental impacts of medical marijuana cultivation.

By creating this regulatory program, the budget funding aims to 
protect "instream flows for fish from water diversions related to 
marijuana cultivation."

Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, authored Assembly Bill 243 to 
create the new marijuana regulations, and said Thursday he was 
excited to see the governor's funding proposals with the $7.6 million 
allocation to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and $5.7 million 
to the SWRCB to create the Watershed Enforcement Team created by his AB 243.

"This team will ensure that as the cannabis industry grows, our 
forests and streams are protected," Wood said.

Revisions to the governor's budget are expected by May, with an 
official enacted budget by this summer.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom