California opens new marijuana agency 5 years after legalization

California opens new marijuana agency 5 years after legalization

california department of cannabis control

Five years after California legalized recreational marijuana, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law aimed at simplifying how the state regulates the growing industry.

The new law creates a single Department of Cannabis Control, consolidating enforcement, licensing and environmental oversight that had fallen under three different departments.

Industry representatives praised the change, which Newsom first proposed in January 2020.

We “are excited to see the consolidation,” said Lindsay Robinson, the executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, representing over 400 licensed businesses across the state. “We see this as a big win for the industry.”

The Department of Cannabis Control will now take over responsibilities from the Bureau of Cannabis Control under the Department of Consumer Affairs, CalCannabis under the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch under the Department of Health.

Cannabis companies had often expressed difficulty navigating three different agencies with varying protocols and processes, according to Robinson.

“I think that having all of this housed under one agency is going to help with communication, it’s going to help with transparency and hopefully with process time for applications too,” Robinson said.

The department will also manage California’s track-and-trace system, following the movement of cannabis and cannabis products through the legal supply chain.

The Newsom administration wants to make it less likely someone will choose to operate in the illicit market, Christina Dempsey, the Acting Deputy Director for the DCC, told The Sacramento Bee by email.

Robinson called the licensing of California’s cannabis industry when voters approved recreational cannabis use in 2016 a “behemoth project” from the start.

New Year, New Industry

New Year, New Industry

2018 was a big year for the cannabis industry. 2019 is poised to change the industry even more.

The cannabis industry grew on a global scale in 2018. Not just in the United States, but around the world. More places are starting to accept cannabis as medicine and recreation, with even more planning to get on board in 2019.

While there are plenty of small or local changes to cannabis in the US, here some of the biggest changes in the cannabis industry that came in 2018.

Canada Legalization

Canada legalization of cannabis was a major victory for the industry in 2018. The government of Canada legalized the recreational use of cannabis across the entire country, with local governments still being able to limit the law. 

However compared to legalization within some states of the United States, Canada legalization is run entirely by the government instead of private businesses. All licensed grows, manufacturers and retailers are government run. This has had a split impact on the industry as a whole in Canada.

While access to cannabis has become much easier — consumers can order cannabis online, for delivery, directly from a government website — supply currently cannot meet demand, causing backorders, long delays, moldy and stale product, and other problems.

The biggest problem Canada legalization has adversely caused is an increased use of the private market. If they government can’t supply its people but says it can be the only source, people will go to the private market to get the products they want without the long delay and risk of bad product.

Farm Bill and Industrial Hemp

difference between hemp vs cannabis CBD

At the end of December 2018, Donald Trump surprisingly signed the Farm Bill of 2018, also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Among many other adjustments to the agricultural industries in the US, the farm bill also separated the definition of industrial hemp to be different from that of cannabis.

Before the bill was signed, hemp and cannabis were under the same definition, with a sub-definition of hemp being any part of the cannabis plant with less than .3% THC. However, as sub-definition, it was still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

The farm bill separated industrial hemp from the traditional cannabis definition, and created a federal definition of industrial hemp, being the same definition as before, but off of the controlled substances list. This has opened up the possibility for a massive hemp and CBD industry to develop.

While it’s too soon to say where the industry is headed — it will most likely be a year before the new bill takes full effect — the Farm Bill and legalization of industrial hemp means big things for the future of the cannabis industry.

First Year of California Legalization

california legalization needs to be controlled by farmers

California has a population with over 10 million more people than the second place contender, Texas. It was expected for the legalization of cannabis in California to expand the already developed marketplace in the state to great new bounds. However the new laws in place have had almost the opposite effect.

The cannabis marketplace in California was already the biggest in the country, despite the majority of growth occurring in the private market. It was inevitable, then, that the new, legal market would work its hardest to eradicate this competition. 

Extremely limited licenses available to the highest bidder resulted in hundreds of farms and private operations having to shut down, simply by not being able to afford a legal license. This was the case for a large portion of the cannabis community in California, opening up the door for larger companies with more capital interests to enter the market.

With the biggest companies buying as many licenses as possible, the OGs of the industry are left with little options. Either continue to operate in the private market and hope to get a license before getting caught, or leave the industry in California. 

It’s been a tough year for a thousands of growers across California, and 2019 most likely won’t prove to be much different. Despite its flaws however, California will still be a huge legal cannabis marketplace, and most likely surpass all other states, with the end result being the eradication of the private market entirely in the state.

An Eventful Year

2018 was a year full of surprises. Colorado passing Amendment X, The Farm Bill, California’s industry revelations and more. This year had its ups and downs, it’s issues that split the community, but overall the industry is in a better place than it was a year ago.

More states have legalized both recreationally and medicinally, cannabis is more acceptable in social culture than ever before, and more people are learning about the lies they were told during the drug war movement. Some are already saying 2019 will be the year of weed, while others think the bubble is bound to burst any day now.

We’ll just wait and see what’s in store for cannabis in 2019!

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California Legalization: farmers stand up!

California Legalization: farmers stand up!

California cannabis farmers: We have been fighting for cannabis legalization for 80 years. On paper it is finally coming all over the country and the world.

Some of the most restrictive places in the country like Arkansas and Nevada have embraced legal cannabis. Colorado has pioneered the legalization and regulatory environment.

We have literally paved streets that haven’t been fixed in years, and millions and millions of dollars are going to the school systems in association with cannabis sales. On the surface, it appears that the tide is changing. We need to check the tide chart.

The fight is not over. Throughout every single legal state there are county representatives, the board of supervisors, mayors, sheriffs, parent groups and political organizations that are quietly applying pressure to the regulated cannabis movement. Just because the governor or your state representative or your voters change the laws on cannabis regulation does not mean that cannabis is legal commerce in your state or town.

California cannabis legalization

Specifically throughout California, the cannabis legalization movement is being challenged by regulatory agencies and special interest groups. While the good farmers of America are tending their crops, back room deals and political pressure will make it difficult to operate a regulated legal business.

On the surface the cannabis regulatory environment has been successful in Humboldt County. A common stat that is used is that we have 20% of the licensing in the state. These are all temporary licenses and not permanent ones. I believe many of these temporary license holders will not be able to gain a permanent license.

There are absolutely political forces against the cannabis grower to be successful.

Regulation roadblocks

One of the first struggles in legalization is between the policing agencies. The sheriff, the police and Fish and Wildlife have all been responsible for policing the cannabis industry in the past. Many of these people have embraced new cannabis regulations. But there is an old guard that does not agree with government and voter passed laws.

They are the ones who are out to get us.

It isn’t paranoia. These are just facts. We’re not playing cops and robbers anymore, however many people in the policing arena still want to play that game. Environmental and neighborhood groups that are in the minority are speaking up against cannabis legalization. In our current 2.0 designation for new cannabis operations, many outrageous restrictions have been inserted into these new laws.

Unrealistic zoning designation and industrial controls are currently being placed on the cannabis industry.

Is it discrimination?

I spoke recently with Steve Lazar of the Humboldt County Planning Department, and he feels that cannabis is not like other crops and should be treated totally different.

I’m pretty sure we all call this discrimination. To treat one group of people differently than you treat another people. Or in this case to treat one business differently than you treat another business. If a hog farm, chicken farm or dairy farm has certain regulations then those are the type regulations the cannabis industry should have. They should not be any easier or more restricted than any other agricultural product.

I’ve seen this type of attitude for years. While good cannabis folks are working hard, toiling away in their businesses and being successful, they were still judged by neighbors and peers for having an easy life. We’ve all heard, “I should just grow a ton of weed and everything will be OK.”

Those of us that have done this know how hard that statement is, and that you deserve any payment associated with your hard labor.

Time to take the reigns

I’m here to say if we want a legal, functioning cannabis system in Humboldt, the farmers are going to have to step up!

You are going to have to embrace your neighbors and talk to them. You have to bring up the conversations about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, because many of them still have this projection that you’re a mega diesel grow dumping crank oil into the creek.

We have to come out of the dark and tell people what we’re doing.

Ganja farmers need to realize how to be political and call up your representatives at the local and state level. Whether it is a board of supervisors or the school board or the Waterboard it is time for us to come out of the darkness and be the leaders that we are. To all the outlaws out there who are bucking legalization, I want you to think back to how it used to be before 215. It will go back to that.

Without a 215 defense the whole cookie crumbles. In the past all you had to do was have your script and maybe some scripts of other patients and you could grow as much as you wanted. If interdiction showed up they would take everything and maybe you would receive three years probation. This is all going to change, and it’s going to change rapidly. I do not want to see my friends or family in jail again over cannabis regulations and laws.

The time is now. Your phone is already in your hand, so call up your local representative and express concerns. The Board of Supervisors knows the importance of cannabis farmers. They will listen.

The Profit bob Marley said it best, “get up stand up, stand up for your rights,” and now is the time to stop singing and start doing.