At 20 Years Old, California’s Marijuana Industry Still Has Growing Pains

Posted by Meital Manzuri, Esq. | May 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

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California passed the country's first medical marijuana initiative in 1996, and it's been smooth sailing ever since, right? On the contrary, it's been 20 years of growing pains, even now here in 2016…

It's been two decades of growing pains since 1996, when Californians were the first to pass a medical marijuana state ballot initiative. The law has been ridiculed by supporters and critics alike – either the law doesn't do enough to protect patients or it's basically legalized consumption and the medical benefits are mostly a guise.

Put simply, major growing pains!

First Comes Legalization, Then Comes Regulation

In October 2015, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) intended to solve the state's ineffective and incomplete marijuana laws by implementing a legal infrastructure complete with a Bureau of Medical Marijuana (how cool is that?!) and a comprehensive license system. MMRSA went into effect in January 2016, which begs the question – “What does that mean?” – since it is going to take a presumed 2 years to organize the Bureau and create specifics of licensing applications and regulations.

Current MMBs Haven't Changed Under the MMRSA

Under MMRSA, California cannabis businesses would have licenses, even though the licenses haven't been created yet. The good news – The MMRSA did not purpose itself to make the CUA inoperative law. In simple terms, the CUA is STILL good law that MMBs have to follow. So, in actuality, the passage of the MMRSA, did not change CA's medical cannabis climate at all…and won't change it until we can get our hands on applications.

“Getting in Line for a License”

Prep time. Now is the time to get all your ducks in a row – or plants or flowers or edibles or hash oil – so to speak. In preparation for licenses to take CA by storm, the MMRSA tells Californians, maybe not so clearly, that businesses applying for a CA license must be lawful (incorporated, paying taxes, proper collective) in compliance with local ordinances.

Medical and Recreational Co-Exist

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (“AUMA”, or even more colloquially known as the Parker Initiative) is a proposal to do what Prop 215 and the MMRSA haven't – LEGALIZE marijuana in CA!

As of the first week of May 2016, the AUMA Initiative has more than enough signatures to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. Exciting – but will it undo all the headway made in the medical world of cannabis? Simply put – No. The AUMA's biggest change to existing law would be the legalization and regulations of marijuana for recreational use, leaving all the hard work surrounding medical cannabis intact.

Other changes include:

  • Adding more operational licenses for recreational businesses (the MMRSA allows 17 types)
  • Imposing a 15% recreational tax on retail MJ sales (in addition to state and local taxes already in place)
  • Lifting bans on personal indoor grows
  • Converts all cannabis related crimes to Misdemeanors

Marijuana in California has been riding a rollercoaster in the clouds for the past 20 years: increased politicization, reduced prohibition, heightened awareness of the plant's benefits, and more acceptance of the rights to personal consumption.

But something tells us that it's about to get REALLY interesting.

Keep up with Manzuri Law Law for updates to this and other related cannabis issues.

About the Author

Meital Manzuri, Esq.

Managing Partner.

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