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Pot of Golden State: The Legalization of Marijuana in California

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The cannabis industry is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes. On one hand, it could generate billions of dollars. On the other, it’s still illegal under federal law and only eight states have legalized pot. In California, the decision to achieve full legalization of marijuana is full steam ahead.

First in line

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana way back in 1996 by passing Proposition 215. Then Governor Gray Davis then signed the Medical Marijuana Protection Act in 2003. This senate bill used a medical ID card system to be administered by the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program. It also allowed the formation of patient collectives. But this system is lacking and put the California marijuana industry in a gray area, legal wise.

Bump on the road

Pot of Golden State: The Legalization of Marijuana in California

In 2014, however, the federal government issued what is to be known as the Cole Memo, stating that there should be a stronger regulatory system regarding the use and sale of cannabis in the state. Otherwise, the state should expect prosecutions of the substance’s abusers.

The federal government stated eight major concerns in the Cole Memo, making it clear to the states that if these concerns were not sufficiently addressed they will be met with federal intervention.

The concerns are the prevention of distribution to minors, prevention of diversion of marijuana sales revenue to criminal organizations, prevention of the diversion of marijuana to other states where they are not legal, prevention of the use of marijuana activity as a pretext or cover for the trafficking of illegal drugs and/or activity, prevention of violence and use of arms, prevention of drugged driving, prevention of use of public lands, and prevention of use and possession within and on federal property.

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Two steps forward, one step back

In 2015, the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) was passed consisting of three bills that made for the stronger regulation of medical marijuana in the state. The three bills were: Assembly Bill 266 – overall regulatory and licensing, Assembly Bill 243 – cultivation and regulation thereof, and Senate Bill 643 – standards for prescribers and applicants.

2016 saw the legalization of recreational marijuana under the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act (AUMA). The problem lies between the distinct differences the MCRSA and AUMA have.

Golden Brown

To address the conflicts, California Governor, Jerry Brown, submitted a proposal. As of April 28, 2017, the drafted rules for sale of medical marijuana in the Golden State have been released by the Brown administration. The rules state that applicants must acquire licenses from the state Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation as well as undergo background checks. Rules regarding transport and packaging are also included.

Four hearings on the proposal have been scheduled by the state. One is set at Junipero Serra Building in Los Angeles at 10 a.m. on June 8.

It seems nothing is stopping the golden state from chasing the pot at the end of the legal rainbow.

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