Article by David Brown, Lift News
California released new ‘emergency’ cannabis regulations on November 17 to prepare for legal recreational sales planned for January 1, 2018.
The rules are being categorized as temporary regulations that will help establish a framework to allow cities and counties and businesses prepare for the transition to a legal market while the state works out other details like seed-to-sale tracking, rules for how producers can ship product to testing labs, how an ‘owner’ of a business is defined, and other small and not-so-small details.
While the Canadian and US markets are very different, the similarities to California’s approach, timeline and existing culture has many parallels with Canada.
Canada announced a long-expected notice of intent on Nov 21 that gave a broad overview of the regulations the government is looking at for regulating cannabis producers and products (as well as a two month public consultation period), just a few days after California’s emergency regulations. California has a timeline of having regulations in place by Jan 1, 2018, about 7 months ahead of the Canadian government’s goal of July 2018, and both jurisdictions have deeply embedded cannabis industries and cultures. Both jurisdictions are not expected to have a fully-functional system in place by their established target dates, but are furiously working towards the goal.
California and British Columbia arguably produce a significant portion of the cannabis consumed not only in their respective countries, but around the world, and have decades of embedded culture, sometimes generations deep. Some have even drawn a connection between the influence of the BC Bud indoor growing culture and American draft dodgers from california bringing up technology and approaches just emerging in places like California in the 1970s.
In response to California’s announcement, some have expressed concerns about some aspects of the regulations that they find too limiting, like concerns with high taxes, limits on the potency of edibles, and overall skepticism with what is seen as over regulation of an industry used to little oversight.
To better understand these new regulations and what they mean for smaller growers in the Golden State, I reached out to Amanda Reiman, a drug policy reformer based in Mendocino County, California. Reiman is a social worker, a cannabis expert and the Secretary of the International Cannabis Farmers Association, with a focus on promoting public policy that ensures an equal share of licenses are issued to traditional sun grown Cannabis farmers. She is also the VP of Community Relations at Flow Kana, a California-based, “small batch” cannabis brand.
While Reiman discusses the state of the cannabis industry and the process of regulation in California, the similarities with Canada are noteworthy. We discuss the challenge of transitioning from an under-regulated market to a regulated market, the identity crises this brings for some who have only ever known the illicit market, and how to respond to change proactively rather than fighting it.
You can read our full interview below:
What’s your take on these ‘emergency regulations’ that California recently announced?
I’m really glad that they came up with regulations because we really want to move this forward in California, and the reconciliation of the adult use program and the medical use program was quite a hurdle and I’m really glad to see that they’re moving forward.
When we look at other states, especially Maine where the governor vetoed their implementation legislation, I think we’re in pretty good shape here in California, comparatively. It’s a very difficult market to bring regulations into, partially because it’s so big and partially because it’s already been an industry for over 20 years, so we’re really not starting from scratch here.
I think that typical of California, there’s way too much regulations. I think this is an intersection between the cannabis industry and this desire to have tight controls over it, and the fact that California over-regulates every business in this state. So, unsurprisingly, the taxes are so high that the barriers to becoming a business are too onerous, the reporting requirements are too intense. But that’s to be expected.
I think, as we’ve seen in other places, as time goes on there are some elements of these programs that people realize are too onerous, and they start to relax those things. I think something that’s important for folks to remember is that this is the beginning of a very long marathon. This is not a sprint. This is not going to be over in a year. This is a starting place.
Because cannabis is so stigmatized and because California loves their regulations, the starting place is going to be in an area that make a lot of people in the industry nervous, because the regulations seem so onerous. But I think it’s important that we respond to these regulations and not react to them, because we want to be strategic and we want to set in place something that is going to benefit the smaller player while still recognizing the constraints of the current system we exist in when it comes to capitalism.