Gov. Jerry Brown signs historic legislation creating a statewide regulatory framework for California medical marijuana businesses
SACRAMENTO (KUSI) — Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills into law Friday that establish a statewide regulatory framework for California businesses that produce and distribute medical marijuana in the state.
AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643 create standards for licensing businesses as well as testing, packaging, labeling, and tracking marijuana products, among other things.
The bills establish a new agency within the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, which will oversee the system and work with other agencies that will be involved in licensing key areas of activity, such as cultivation and testing.
The bureau will develop detailed rules by January 2017, and businesses will begin to apply for state licenses in January 2018, at which point the current system of collectives and cooperatives will be phased out. Medical marijuana businesses will need to obtain local approval to continue operating.
In 1996, California became the first state to adopt a law that allows seriously ill patients to legally access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. The law did not include a regulatory structure, resulting in a patchwork system in which some communities allowed medical marijuana providers to operate under local regulations while others opted to prohibit such operations entirely.
Statement from Lauren Vazquez, Oakland-based deputy director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project:
“We applaud Gov. Brown and the legislature for adopting a much-needed regulatory framework for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana in California. This is an important and long-awaited step forward not only for medical marijuana patients and providers, but also for the state as a whole. Nearly 20 years ago, California paved the way for patients’ rights to access medical marijuana. Finally, it is following in the footsteps of states around the country that have proven that regulating marijuana works.
“These regulations will ensure patients have legal, safe, and consistent access to medical marijuana. New guidelines for testing and labeling products will ensure patients know what they are getting and that it meets appropriate standards for quality.
“We hope localities that have banned medical marijuana establishments will rethink their policies now that these establishments have clear and uniform rules to follow. Seriously ill patients in many of these areas are being forced to travel many miles to legally obtain medical marijuana. Communities should be working to make life easier for their most vulnerable citizens, not placing additional burdens on them.”