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California’s Pot Czar Wants the Public to Help with Marijuana Regulations

Maureen Meehan

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If you happen to be in or near California, officials would like your two cents on how to draw up regulations on medical marijuana.

While the Golden State’s Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BMRC) will dictate how pot is to be grown, sold and licensed, as well as how fees will be set, at least they’re asking for popular input.

The goal of these seven planned meetings, which will go on through the fall (see the meeting dates!), is to have regulations in place by January 2018, says California’s weed czar Lori Ajax, director of the BMCR .

Last week, the BMRC and reps from the Office of Medical Cannabis Safety (OMCS) held a town hall meeting in Santa Rosa.

Although Santa Rosa is traditionally wine country, pot cultivation is huge. Growers and dispensary owners had a lot to say about how the state should prioritize applications, define business owners and how to handle applicants with criminal records.

“Why should the cannabis industry be treated any differently than the wine industry?” one dispensary worker asked.

Growers complained about the price of licensing fees, suggesting that there should be provisions for small-scale “cottage industry” providers, reported Bohemian.com

“We would just as soon stay illegal, and we may have no choice,” said a small grower.

It may not be what Ajax wanted to hear, but it was nothing new. Similar concerns at previous meetings have come up, and Ajax said she hopes the BMCR can avoid such problems—hence the open meetings.

“They know better. That’s why we’re here,” said Ajax, who served as deputy director of California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control when it brought the craft-beer industry under regulation, which she and others point to when looking at how the cannabis industry can be regulated.

Then there is Prop 64, which numerous polls consistently show will pass in November.

If the legal weed initiative passes, Ajax’s bureau will have to decide if, when and how to allow functioning MMJ dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana.

What we know so far is that within the rules already set by the Medical Marijuana Regulations and Safety Act is a grandfather clause, stating that dispensaries functioning in good standing with their local governments at the beginning of 2016 will get priorities for licenses, including those with criminal records, although they will be subject to extra scrutiny.

California’s task is huge and has lots of moving parts, as full legalization looms large.

Lori Ajax herself predicted that California’s licensed weed industry could surpass booze.

Follow all of HIGH TIMES’ news coverage right here.

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