Cannabis Essential: California and Prop 64
Prop 64 has passed. We bet Californians are scratching their heads asking what’s next. It is an interesting question, primarily, because a complicated process of implementation is about to begin.
The full text of Proposition 64 is pretty long and confusing. It may leave you wondering if it all could be done. Partially, it could. On the other hand, we need to start implementing it to realize how it is going to work on the state and local levels. Some issues will require litigations, taking into account that California is a diverse state with plenty of different political views and cultures. It is better to prepare for long battles in court.
However, don’t worry: there are some things you can enjoy right now. Let’s see what we have:
Summary: What we’ve got
According to the California Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 10(a), Prop 64 took effect the day after the election. Unfortunately, it does not mean that your favorite medical dispensary starts selling you weed without doctor’s recommendation right now. However, there are things you are entitled to immediately:
- Possession of up to 28.5 grams of cannabis flower or and up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate;
- Consumption of cannabis in a private residence;
- Growing up to six cannabis plants and keeping the harvested product in a private residence;
- Giving away to another adult up to 28.5 grams of flower and up to 8 grams of concentrate.
Retail stores will open at early 2018 when the commercial licenses start to be issued. Why? Because approving measure means that just the beginning of the long and complicated process of building of infrastructure. Don’t forget that all products need to be tested and labeled before selling.
If there wouldn’t be any temporary licenses (as Lt.Gov. said), the commercial sales will take longer time. Growers will be able to grow cannabis just after they receive a license, and typically it takes up to 8 weeks before a plant can be harvested. All that could result in overpriced products and a relative scarcity during first months or even year of commercial cannabis.
But what if I’m just a consumer?
You can possess, use at home, and cultivate. (Of course, if you are older than 21 and staying within the law’s limits). Your local government can still ban outdoor cultivation, but Prop 64 guarantees your right to cultivate up to six plants inside your residence.
If you would decide to consume in public, you get fined. If you tested positive for cannabis at work, your employer could fire you. However, in general, criminal penalties have been dropped (for those 21 and older) and adjusted (under the law minors will be required to undergo tax-funded drug education program). For some cases, they were heightened – for adults of 18-20 years old. Possession, less than an ounce, would remain a $100 infraction, while bigger possession could bring a sentence of up to six months. If any adult 18 or over would share cannabis with someone under 21, it could result in a six-month sentence and $500 fine. Pretty severe.
What for a business owner?
You will need to wait. There are many types of commercial licenses, but they will not be available until Jan.1, 2018. On this day the state’s medical cannabis regulatory system goes online.
What would licensing scheme include? Cultivation, manufacturing, testing, retail, distribution, and entities referred to as micro business (they must cultivate cannabis in an area smaller than 10,000 square feet but can also produce, retail, and distribute).
Bigger growers will need to wait until 2023. This five years will give smaller growers to establish themselves in the market. However, a perspective of the biggest players coming to the scene later would drive down prices. Nobody knows how it would be going, especially when the system allows vertical integration that means the operator of business can hold multiple licenses.
All commercial cultivation will be subject to a new state tax. For an ounce of dried flowers business owners will need to pay $9.25 in taxes. An ounce of dried leaves will cost $2.75. A new state excise tax will subject both medical and non-medical customer to an additional 15% of a product’s retail price. Commercial sales for adult use will also be a subject of taxation, while registered patients will be exempt. Ah, and local governments can impose additional taxes, too.
- Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation will issue licenses for medical marijuana distributors, transporters, testing facilities, and retailers.
- Department of Food and Agriculture will issue licenses and regulate medical marijuana growers.
- Department of Public Health will issue licenses and regulate producers of edible marijuana products.
- State Water Resources Control Board will regulate the environmental impacts of marijuana growing on water quality.
- Department of Fish and Wildlife will regulate environmental impact of marijuana growing.
- Department of Pesticide Regulation will regulate pesticide use for growing marijuana.
(More information here.)
Even with a precise language, there is still a place for ambiguity. A lot of very real, very practical questions remain. The proposition itself gives a direction where we, as the state, should move. Now, it is a job of state agencies and local governments to solve problems on hand. Actual procedures are far from ready, and there is a plenty of hard work to get it done. Remember: it is just beginning. What seems like simple things actually take a lot of time and dedication to implement.
Now it is time to get involved and make a real difference. You may help to shape how Prop 64 will work and who will actually benefit from that.
See you in the field!