On January 16th, California’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the final rules and regulations governing the state’s cannabis industry, a little over a year after legal recreational sales went into effect. The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health spent months writing and revising 358 pages of rules and regulations before submitting them to OAL in December. According to the Associated Press, regulars say the OAL made no substantive changes before issuing their rubber stamp, effective immediately.
The industry, which includes thousands of licensed farms, retailers, testing labs and other businesses, had been operating under temporary rules, many of which have now been cemented into law. One of the most noteworthy policies allows dispensaries to make marijuana deliveries to any jurisdiction in California, even those municipalities which have passed local laws prohibiting cannabis. The rules guarantee legal protection to the more than 100 state-licensed “non-storefront” delivery companies and their customers in so-called pot “deserts,” which is particularly good news for those tokers who may be homebound or have other limitations that prohibit them from traveling.
“We get people interested in those areas,” said Ray Markland, manager of EcoCann, a dispensary in Eureka, CA, according to the Times-Standard. “We’ve operated under the temporary state laws and delivered there. It’s good for customers who are physically challenged and aren’t able to make it out to us to get our products. … It’s a positive move showing validity to the cannabis industry and to cannabis as an everyday consumable product and not something to be ashamed to use.”
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California is officially the first and only state to legalize home delivery service across all municipalities. According to the Times-Standard, delivery vehicles can only carry a maximum of $5,000 worth of marijuana at any time, and must be free of any markings which indicate they’re transporting weed “to reduce the risk” of “theft or other crime.” Supporters also say that legal delivery service will help further undermine what remains of the marijuana black market, which had continued to thrive because approximately three-quarters of the state’s municipalities have passed local laws prohibiting licensed cannabis stores from opening.
“You can’t ban delivery,” Maximillian Mikalonis, a cannabis lobbyist for K Street Consulting, told Leafly. “You can only ban legal, licensed, regulated and taxed delivery.”
California’s newly formalized regulations also mandate the use of child-resistant packaging and tighter testing rules for heavy metals and toxins in all marijuana products. Marijuana will continue to be a cash-only business, as the national banking industry is controlled by the United States Department of Treasury, which adheres to the federal law prohibiting marijuana. However, going forward, cannabis retailers in the Golden State will only need to check customer IDs before purchasing, and no longer are required to record names and other identifying info.
“These approved regulations are the culmination of more than two years of hard work by California’s cannabis licensing authorities,” Lori Ajax, chief of the state Bureau of Cannabis Control, said in a statement. “Public feedback was invaluable in helping us develop clear regulations for cannabis businesses and ensuring public safety.”