“What you always do before you make a decision is consult. The best public policy is made when you are listening to people who are going to be impacted. Then, once a policy is determined, you call on them to help you sell it.”
— Elizabeth Dole

"The shift from cannabis prohibition to regulation — in the largest cannabis market in the world — is complex, and involves a broad range of stakeholders. Getting it right will take time."

- DCR Executive Director Cat Packer, April 2018

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Marijuana in California:
Navigating the Potential and Pitfalls in a Newly Legalized Industry

Key Speakers

Hilary Bricken, Partner, Harris Bricken Law Firm
Michelle Garakian, Assistant General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation
Jody D. Armour, Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law, USC Gould School of Law
Brad Rowe, Lecturer in Public Affairs, UCLA Luskin School of Public Policy & Adjunct Professor, Pepperdine University School of Public Policy
Eugene Morgulis, Director, Legal & Strategic Initiatives, National Association of Cannabis Businesses
John Yaeger, Partner, Indiva Advisers CPA
Christina Kelly, Director of Communications, West Region, American Cancer Society

This event was held on Thursday, February 14th 2019.


In November 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana for those who are 21 years or older. While other states have legalized recreational marijuana, California is by far the largest to do so — both in terms of population and in size of its agricultural base. The state has since passed legislation to streamline a process for residents with prior cannabis-related convictions to clear their names.

Over the last couple of years, permits and regulations for recreational marijuana sales and consumption have been issued and are taking effect, presenting challenges for state and local government, industry leaders and consumers. Meeting the demand for licenses in a timely matter is one such challenge. In the first year of implementation, the Bureau of Cannabis Control issued approximately 547 licenses to marijuana retail stores in the state. Meanwhile, hundreds of storefront dispensaries continue to operate illegally. Additionally, unlicensed medical cannabis collectives were protected under state law and allowed to do business without permits throughout 2018. This protection ended on January 9th, 2019, making MMJ collectives and co-ops subject to law enforcement.

Due to a provision in Proposition 64, municipalities have the authority to regulate or ban cannabis related activity. This has led to a patchwork of regulations throughout California varying from city to city, with less than 20% of cities in the state allowing storefront shops to sell recreational marijuana (California Cannabis Industry Association). However, the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s policy allows marijuana deliveries throughout California, regardless of local bans. Municipalities can also determine how much recreational sales are taxed. While all recreational marijuana purchases are subject to a state tax of 15%, this is before local city taxes are added on. Taxes on marijuana are considered a primary incentive for legalization, but high tax rates also provide opportunities for illicit operators to undercut legal vendors on price.

Additionally, legalization has raised numerous health and safety concerns, particularly for children. Responsible marketing has long been at the center of legalization discourse, with an aim to protect children from child-friendly advertising campaigns and packaging. The effects on families when parents use marijuana are also being considered. Roughly 1 in 20 women report using marijuana during pregnancy nationwide, but this increases significantly in states where recreational cannabis is legal. Smoking during pregnancy or while breastfeeding and second-hand exposure after birth can impact child development, but more research is needed to explore this relationship. Industry leaders and policymakers must decide how it can take steps to protect children and how to educate citizens about responsible consumption. 

While many states have legalized marijuana, the drug is still illegal at the federal level. Therefore, illicit exportation of cannabis to neighboring states continues to be of concern. Discrepancies between federal and state laws have also created major financial issues for recreational marijuana businesses pertaining to receiving payment from customers, filing their taxes, etc. For federally funded shelters, nonprofits and other organizations, the discrepancies raise questions pertaining to servicing individuals that use medical or recreational marijuana and accepting donations from marijuana businesses. It has also created barriers for those wishing to research health benefits and risks associated with consuming marijuana. However, two recent developments, the legalization of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill and the National Institute of Health’s HEAL initiative have opened opportunities for research, especially related to the use of CBD and cannabis as a substitute for opioids in pain management.

This timely symposium offers policymakers, business owners, public workers, researchers, scientists and advocates the opportunity to discuss ways to overcome challenges and strategies related to the nascent nature of the marijuana industry in California. Participants will review current state and federal legislative developments, build partnerships and consider key learnings for future policy development and research.


Delegates will:

  • Assess the current laws and regulations on the recreational use of marijuana
  • Review steps and measures implemented to efficiently and sufficiently supply and support local recreational marijuana businesses with permits and licenses
  • Review current legal discrepancies between state and the federal law and discuss the potential outcomes of such discrepancies and ways to overcome them
  • Review and assess current regulations that ensure safe recreational use and consumption of marijuana
  • Discuss issues and regulations concerning responsible marketing, growing, and sale of marijuana in California
  • Evaluate the current market and research landscape and discuss ways to improve both
  • Create strategies for collaborative efforts across different fields and disciplines to reach best practices




09:30 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:15  Chair's Welcome and Introduction 

Panel One:

Regulated Thriving Economy - Overcoming Federal and State Law Discrepancies, and Drawing from other Experiences

  • Evaluating current market regulations - Enforcing legal provisions on illegal operators, collaborating with regulators to define the delivery service model and minimizing potential criminal activity in brick and mortar cannabis businesses
  • Teens and the danger of marijuana - Preventing the appeal to minors and curbing teen cannabis use
  • Assessing current recreational regulations - Designated public smoking areas for local business establishments, restaurants, stadiums, theme parks, and movie theaters etc.
  • Federal law vs. state law - Discussing the feasibility of a public bank bill or a California-run bank
  • Learning from other states - Drawing from the experiences of other states and how California can be the business model for future legalization initiatives 
11:15 Morning Coffee Break
11:30 Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel One
12:30 Networking Lunch

Panel Two:

Prioritizing Adequate Production, Safe Consumption, and Legal Sales and Marketing of Recreational Marijuana

  • Assessing current proposed and enforced regulations on the recreational use of marijuana
  • Finding ways to efficiently and effectively meet high demand for production and sale permits
  • Ensuring the safe distribution and consumption of recreational marijuana
  • Funding research on the consumption and effects of marijuana and improving support to researchers, academics, and scientists
  • Developing strategies to combat the marijuana black market – Promoting community collaboration
2:15 Afternoon Coffee Break
2:30 Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel Two
3:30 Chair's Summary and Closing Comments
3:40 Networking Reception
4:30 Close

** Please note that the program is subject to change without notice **



Who Should Attend?

  • California Bureau of Cannabis Control
  • Department of Consumer Affairs
  • Department of Public Health
  • Department of Health Services
  • Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency
  • Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch
  • Division of Food, Drug, and Cannabis Safety
  • Department of Food and Agriculture
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing
  • Department of Business Oversight
  • City/County Departments of Cannabis Regulation
  • Regulatory Bodies
  • City/County Cannabis Policy & Enforcement Offices
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Medical Marijuana Researchers/Industry Leaders
  • Medical Marijuana Non-profits/ Medical Collectives
  • Licensing Consultants
  • Hemp/CBD Industry Professionals
  • Manufacturers & Distributors
  • Attorneys and Legal Experts
  • Councilmembers
  • Legislators
  • County Supervisors
  • Cultivators and Business Owners
  • Healthcare Providers
  • Public Health Administers, Planners, Providers
  • Public Health Policy Experts
  • Cannabis Policy experts
  • Law Enforcement
  • Drug Enforcement Officials
  • Public Safety Professionals
  • Criminal Justice Professionals
  • Substance Use & Addiction Counselors
  • Behavioral Health/Mental Health Administrators, Coordinators, Providers
  • Substance Misuse Prevention Specialists
  • Youth-serving Organizations
  • Social workers
  • Probation and Parole Officers
  • Non-profit Organizations
  • Advocates
  • Scientists
  • Economists
  • Community-based leaders
  • Academics and Researchers
This event was held on Thursday, February 14th 2019.

Sponsorship and Exhibition Opportunities

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+1 (310) 385 8750 for more information.

How to Book

+1 (310) 385 8750