Gathered in an an upper floor room in Oakland’s Elithu M. Harris State Building Monday the most powerful person in the current California cannabis climate, the state’s first marijuana Czar Lori Ajax, offers a rundown of the afternoon’s agenda. As the head of the newly formed Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR), Ajax is hitting off a pre-regulatory fact-finding meeting designed to help the state licensing authority implement the three bills that make up the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA). She’s clear to tell those in the room – many of whom are interested in attaining a marijuana license in one of the state’s six major licensing categories – while they may not agree with the requirements of the bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Jan. 1, 2015, the state agencies gathered for the meeting are only charged with deciding the details of their implementation in order to issue state marijuana licenses. These licenses will usher the Golden State, which adopted medical marijuana through Prop. 215 two decades ago this November, into a whole new era of medical marijuana beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
“We can’t change the statute here,” Ajax says. “We can draft simple comprehensive regulations.”
Asif Maan, the new chief of the Department of Public Health offshoot known as the Office of Medical Cannabis Safety (OMCS), explained that the meetings now being held across the state are an informal comment period – designed to iron out important details such as who represents an “owner” of a medical marijuana business. A flyer detailing the agenda attempts to clearly stomp out confusion with aims to legalize adult-use marijuana at the ballot box this November.
“This meeting is not related to California Proposition 64.”
Representatives from all the state agencies now charged with licensing medical marijuana, the lead-agency BMCR, OMCS and the Medical Cannabis Cultivation Program (MCCP) – marijuana is now joining other agricultural commodities such as olives and wine under the umbrella of the Department of Food and Agriculture – were present to answer questions. Maan explained that the three agencies plan to submit a draft proposal to the Office of Administrative Law in early 2017, after which a 45-day formal comment period will begin.
Many cities across California have already taken pre-emptive steps to ban medical cannabis dispensaries along with the idea of the adult-use providers that might come alongside Prop. 64. Representatives of the marijuana licensing agencies repeatedly told attendees to take up issues with their local city council and legislators, they are responsible for important details such as applicant background checks (the Bureau is thinking to recommend only owners receive them).
Those wishing to attend the BMCR meetings or receive information about the implementation of the new medical marijuana regulations in California can sign up to receive updates with the agencies (BMCR, MCCP and OMCS).
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