California Rushing to Meet January 2018 Legalization Deadline

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With only four months left until full legalization in California, regulations are literally being adopted on the fly.

The state needs to fill out its commissions and offices by hiring up to 82 people. Software has to be written in time to start accepting applications from the thousands of entrepreneurs hoping to sell weed. In fact, regulations governing sales aren’t even properly in place.

Lori Ajax, the director of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (formerly the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation AKA BMCR or, colloquially, “Bummer”), told the Sacramento Bee that California’s entire regulatory scheme was a work in progress.

Considering that voters approved Proposition 64 only this past November, delays are to be expected, but they are still cause for concern. And it’s worth mentioning that California has had medical marijuana since 1996.

Nevertheless, some people are getting anxious. When Prop. 64 was approved, a deadline of January 2018 for retail sales was set.

So what’s left to be worked out? Lots.

As previously reported, California growers produce way more weed than they consume.

However, regardless of the excess weed, the issue of pesticides testing has reared its ugly head, and some worry that there will not be enough product that has been properly tested for pesticides, mold and potency once retailers open their doors on January 2, 2018.

Then, there’s the nagging driving issue. UC San Diego is currently undertaking a study to determine when a pot consumer can and cannot safely drive. That study won’t be completed for another year.

But probably most importantly, as this has to do with the aforementioned sparsely staffed BMCR offices, the state has not yet started accepting applications for licenses.

This bureaucratic task won’t begin until the end of the year, which means that all licenses issued will be temporary because the state won’t have enough time to check applicants’ backgrounds.

Very few of California’s 58 counties and 482 cities have started working on local regulations, which includes ordinances to implement the initiative. Some fear that might end up being problematic.

In the best of circumstances, under the initiative, the state could receive a request for a license to open a store in a particular jurisdiction and approve it within 60 days if there are no conflicting local ordinances on the books.

Ajax naturally anticipates a big bump in the tourist industry, which is a good thing. However, some bed-and-breakfast operators are already suggesting that they move into the bud-and-breakfast space, which the Sacramento Bee points out, might raise health-related issues over the smoke.

California has a strict a statewide ban on smoking cigarettes and vaping in the workplace, including bars and restaurants.

Smoking or vaping apparently would be permitted at cannabis retailers, if local authorities grant permits for on-site use. This is yet another permit bud-and-breakfast entrepreneurs would need to secure.

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