Will the BCC Squash Local Laws & Legalize Statewide Cannabis Delivery?
When Prop 64 was voted into law in California in 2016, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) was formed to establish and enforce the yet-to-be-finalized regulations that will govern the multibillion-dollar marijuana market.
Much like that massive market it was tasked to oversee, the BCC was nowhere near ready for the slog of red tape and licensing nightmares to come, but in November of 2017 a set of “Emergency Regulations” was drafted and released as a placeholder to buy the Bureau time to wrap their head around this incredibly unique industry.
In May of this year, those Emergency Regulations were updated and we’ve since seen fallout in the form of canceled cannabis events to an epidemic of failed compliance tests and product recalls.
The increased overhead that comes with expensive licensing, mandated testing, and wasteful packaging, in combination with exceedingly high taxes on top of it all, has stunted popularity and sales in the new legal market as seasoned smokers fall back to their black market connections for more reasonable deals.
All of this is going on while the 5th largest economy on the planet still does not have a permanent set of regulations in place for its legal cannabis industry to adhere to.
That may be about to change as earlier this month the BCC released its draft of proposed permanent regulations and though it is all still subject to change, there are a few interesting points worth highlighting.
The first, and potentially most important, update to what could become the law of the land in Cali is that properly licensed cannabis delivery services would be allowed to operate anywhere in the state, regardless of how any certain jurisdiction feels about it.
That’s right; this law would supersede local ordinances and bans in places like San Diego where such delivery-only services are currently strictly prohibited. Since August of 2017, the San Diego Police Department has arrested 34 people in connection with cannabis delivery while seizing over 230 pounds of weed and over $60,000 in cash. If these new regulations stick as currently written, the SDPD will have to get back to fighting actual crime.
From the BCC release:
§ 5414. Non-Storefront Retailer
(a) A non-storefront retailer licensee shall be authorized to conduct retail cannabis sales exclusively by delivery as defined in Business and Professions Code section 26001(p).
(b) A complete application for a non-storefront retailer license shall include all the information required in an application for a retailer license.
(c) A Non-Storefront Retailer licensee shall comply with all the requirements applicable to retailer licensees, except for those provisions related to public access to the licensed premises and the retail area.
(d) The licensed premises of a non-storefront retailer licensee shall be closed to the public.
Authority: Section 26013, Business and Professions Code. Reference: Sections 26012 and 26070, Business and Professions Code.
The 315-page document goes on to outline in very specific detail exactly how to structure inventory, the hiring of delivery drivers and other employees, the do’s and don’ts of what types of addresses can be delivered to, and more.
The temporary Emergency Regulations said that cities could not stop cannabis delivery services from using public roads but anti-cannabis jurisdictions used the grey area in the language to instead outlaw making stops in their area in order to deliver the goods. These new regulations aim to clear that confusion with concise statements like, “A delivery employee may deliver to any jurisdiction within the State of California”.
This is huge news since so many cities and towns up and down the state of California refuse to allow actual legal storefront dispensaries to operate. If implemented, tens of thousands of California cannabis users will have safe access by way of home delivery.
Though it is not being reported anywhere you have to think that the fight that Weedmaps.com put up when threatened by the BCC has some influence on this proposed change. Delivery services make up a sizable portion of their customer base and they have enough influence ($$$) to impact the highest levels of power in the state.
But really, it just makes sense. If eliminating the black market is truly the goal of the BCC, they have to give everyone a path toward legality.
EDIBLE CANNABIS POTENCY
The Emergency Regulations state that cannabis edibles can only contain a maximum of 100mg per package and 10mg per dose.
For those suffering from chronic pain or other debilitating ailments, 100mg of THC is often not nearly enough. So the BCC’s latest draft would allow anyone that has a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana to be able to purchase “dissolving” edibles like lozenges or mouth strips that contain up to 500mg of THC. Another good reason to renew your Rec each year.
NO LOVE FOR SMALL GROWERS
A lawsuit earlier this year by the California Growers Association was not enough to convince the Bureau to reinsert language into their final draft that would place a cap of 1-acre of grow space per farmer – a move aimed to give small and medium-sized growers a chance to compete with the big money.
After an embarrassing first round of testing came back and it was revealed that 1 in 5 products failed to pass the state’s scrutiny, these newly proposed regulations loosen the language a bit when it comes to lab testing, packaging requirements and compliance in general.
The BCC will hold 10 hearings over the course of the next 45 days to take comments, questions, and concerns from the public before making their ultimate decisions but they say that they will finalize the regulations and ink them into law by the end of this year
Prop64 has been a bit of a dumpster fire so far but the good news is that it is still being worked on before it becomes permanent and you can still have a say in the matter.