California released new regulations last week for the state’s marijuana market, less than two months before the drug becomes legal for recreational use in the state.
In November 2016, California joined four other states in legalizing both medicinal and recreational marijuana, including Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. The recreational drug will become legal in California on Jan. 1, as outlined by Proposition 64, or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. The law authorizes individuals 21 years or older to use marijuana recreationally.
The new regulations include rules on applying for and obtaining licenses, in addition to implementing application fees for up to $4,260 and annual license fees for up to $38,350.
“It’s been quite a long road and there’s still work to be done, but we’re right where we need to be to be ready to issue licenses on January 1,” said Alex Traverso, spokesperson for the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Cannabis Control, or BCC, in an email. “These rules will help provide safeguards and hopefully a level playing field for all who wish to operate.”
According to Traverso, businesses interested in operating in the cannabis industry will need to apply for state licensure, as well as operate within these new regulations.
The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations and Safety Act, or MAUCRSA, which was signed into law in June 2017, mandated three state licensing authorities to develop one regulatory framework, which would govern both medicinal and adult-use cannabis markets, according to Corey Egel, a spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health.
The three agencies involved in making the regulations are BCC, the California Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch and the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, according to Egel.
A spokesperson for the city of Berkeley declined to comment on the new state regulations.
While many of the regulations are similar to ones that other businesses and manufacturers must adhere to, the list also includes additional requirements unique to the cannabis industry, according to Egel. This includes requirements for the extraction process and rules to prevent contamination, as well as requirements to protect employees and to minimize the potential for diversion.
“Ultimately, commercial cannabis manufacturers must operate a safe, sanitary workplace and follow good manufacturing practices to produce products that are free of contaminants and meet product guidelines,” Egel said in an email. “We are developing educational materials and will hold informational sessions to help those in the industry understand and follow these regulations.”
Staff writer Carina Zhao also contributed to this report.