A California State Senator who represents some of the state’s biggest marijuana growing counties says that a year is not enough time to set up the regulatory structure that will oversee the marijuana retail industry that was legalized by the passage of Proposition 64 last November.
“Being blunt, there is no way the state of California can meet all of the deadlines before we go live on January 1, 2018,” said Sen. Mike McGuire, (D) Healdsburg. “We are building the regulatory system for a multibillion dollar industry from scratch.”
A lot still needs to be worked out by lawmakers and regulators in a state that has a long-established medical cannabis industry that has gone through some ups and downs in the last 5 years, to say the least. From federal crackdowns on dispensaries to the implementation of a massive new set of regulations, California’s medical marijuana industry has lost its footing in many ways.
On top of all of this, add a brand new recreational marijuana industry and a new Administration in the White House and it seems reasonable that lawmakers would need some time to get things right.
Which brings us to yet another drawback to decades of marijuana prohibition: instead of being a legal substance that everyone is used to, marijuana is seen as a dangerous substance that no one knows how to handle because no one had to handle the issue of legal cannabis for so many years.
Politicians, being naturally cautious and measured and the type who like to take their time with things, are going to cover every base when it comes to marijuana regulations. This could turn out to be quite a time-consuming process.
There are also those who didn’t support Prop. 64 – like Senator McGuire – who must now take leading roles in regulating a substance they likely know little about. “It is truly a daunting task,” he said. “We’re literally digging out of a mess that has been created over the last 20 years. There is no turning back, which is why we need to work together to implement the voice of the voters.”
Fortunately not everyone is of the opinion that a delay might be needed. “We’ve all along said that we’re going to meet that deadline and we’re confident that we will be able to do it,” said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the state’s new Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. “We’re right on schedule as far as we’re concerned.”
The hope is that lawmakers will be able to build on some of the new medical marijuana regulations and adapt them for the recreational market, thereby cutting down the timeframe needed. After all, the sooner the recreational industry is allowed to start, the faster it can flourish.