California authorities are crafting new rules governing both medical and recreational marijuana, and they hope to present them to the public in March.
The move follows voter approval in November of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational pot use. It passed by 2 million votes out of nearly 14 million cast. The use of medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription was approved in California 20 years ago as Proposition 215.
An estimated 750,000 people in California use medical marijuana, and there are widely varying estimates of the potential users of recreational weed.
The dollar value of the market for both marijuana sectors in California is estimated at about $6.6 billion, according to state Treasurer John Chiang. With the state facing a $6 billion budget shortage, the incentives to closely regulate and tax marijuana are high.
Statewide, taxable sales of medical marijuana in California were about $575 million during the first six months of 2016, according to the Board of Equalization. The board, which noted that the figure likely was a partial one, said some 1,023 accounts across the state paid $50.5 million in taxes during the period. However, more than two-thirds of marijuana-related businesses do not have bank accounts, according to Chiang, so tracking the money with precision is difficult. Click here for a detailed story about legalized marijuana in California.
Gov. Brown’s draft 2016-17 budget seeks $52.2 million to beef up cannabis regulation and place pot rules under the authority of a single entity, rather than have medicinal and recreational marijuana each regulated separately. The state’s goal is to get geared up by January 2018, when licensed commercial sales of recreational pot will commence.
“Because of the 45-day comment period, there should be plenty of time for public comment and feedback,” said Alexs Traveso, a spokesman for the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. “Our work has been ongoing. Hopefully, we’ll get them ready to go sooner rather than later.”
Regulations will deal with cultivation, public health, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, testing, and the like.