No Free Pre-Rolls, No Drone Deliveries—Takeaways from California’s New MMJ Rules

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The days of medical marijuana delivered by drone in California have ended before they could begin.

On Friday, the California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation released the first draft of its proposed rules for reeling in the state’s sizable and oft-unruly medical marijuana industry.

With over 54 pages of new guidelines, the bureau sets standards for how commercial-grade medical marijuana must be stored, transported, tested, tracked and sold—where, when, by whom and how.

These rules aren’t final and could be changed by both the state legislature after receiving input from concerned parties—the weed industry, police, politicians and the general public—during a 45-day comment period. And since these rules only apply to medical cannabis, they could also be combined or replaced entirely with rules for adult-use marijuana released last month by Gov. Jerry Brown.

But as California marijuana czar Lori Ajax told the Fresno Bee, what you see today is likely to be close to what you’ll get on Jan. 1, 2018, when the rules go into effect.

So what’s in there?

Boring stuff, mostly: licensing and tracking for vehicles used in marijuana delivery; strict inventory control and records of sales, meant to keep weed grown with a state license from disappearing across state lines; down to granular detail like the temperature at which cannabis must be stored.

The rules do provide for some transparency heretofore unseen in the state’s marijuana industry. Specifically, we’ll get to know who’s investing in California cannabis (or at least we’ll get to know the name of their LLCs and shell corporations). Applicants must include “[a] list of loans made to the commercial cannabis business.”

But the state’s millions of marijuana consumers don’t care about any of that. They want to know how much marijuana they can buy (eight ounces a day) and when (between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.).

Here are some other highlights (spoiler: it’s not looking good for drone delivery!):

*Marijuana businesses in operation on Jan. 2, 2018 have until July 2018 to apply for a permit and can stay open until their permit is processed.

*Permits can’t be bought or sold. If a marijuana business is sold, the new owner needs to apply for a new permit.

*Marijuana sold in the state—some of which is very, very dirty!—won’t be subject to mandatory lab testing until six months after a seller receives a permit, or by the end of the year, whichever is sooner.

*No cannabis can be sold on consignment—good news for marijuana producers, in theory.

*Marijuana businesses must have a “labor-peace agreement,” allowing union organizers to try to sign up marijuana workers.

*You’ll be able to patronize your local cop-owned cannabis dispensary. Cops can operate a marijuana business, as long as it’s located in a different county from where they patrol the streets.

*No free samples. There’s a strict prohibition on handing out weed for free, meaning the free pre-roll for first-time customers may be a thing of the past. This would apply to free dabs as well. There’s a similar ban on other license-holders giving away product, spelling bad news for the demo days (and free dabs!) that many marijuana brands use to build their customer base.

*No bicycle delivery. And no driverless car delivery. And no drone delivery! All delivered cannabis has to be delivered by a person, driving a car.

*The rules also seem to spell bad news for businesses like the self-styled “Uber of marijuana,” delivery startup Eaze. No deliveries can come via a third-party, all deliveries must be performed by an employee of the dispensary.

*If any marijuana goes missing, it needs to be reported to the bureau and to the police within 24 hours.

Exciting? No. Necessary. Of course.

The truly curious can leaf through the regulations in full here. If anything irks or excites you, now’s the time to say so.

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