"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
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.
|09:30||Registration and Morning Refreshments|
|10:15||Chair's Welcome and Introduction|
Regulated Thriving Economy - Overcoming Federal and State Law Discrepancies, and Drawing from other Experiences
|11:15||Morning Coffee Break|
|11:30||Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel One|
Prioritizing Adequate Production, Safe Consumption, and Legal Sales and Marketing of Recreational Marijuana
|2:15||Afternoon Coffee Break|
|2:30||Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel Two|
|3:30||Chair's Summary and Closing Comments|
** Please note that the program is subject to change without notice **
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