January 1st, 2018.

It’s the date on everyone’s mind in the cannabis world. It’s the date recreational sales become legal in the mighty market that is California.

Adult use cannabis becomes legal in the Golden State on the first day of the new year, and there’s a lot people want to know about what that process looks like. For the entrepreneur, there are big questions about licensing regulation, with not a lot of easy answers. Primarily, that’s because local governments determine the how those rules are shaped in each of their own provinces. Boards of Supervisors everywhere are having conversations this month to decide what local implementation looks like.

Unfortunately it is not as straightforward as it sounds. (Does it sound straightforward?)

The state is charged with creating a standard set of rules to guide licensing that will act as a sort of default and foundation for local regulations, and those rules need to be in place by the first of January. But since dispensaries are allowed to sell on that same day, businesses need to be ready from the get go, and compliant with…something.

From USA Today:

“(California Cannabis Czar Lori Ajax) expects the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s online application system will open in December and that the BCC will begin emailing temporary licenses to retailers before the new year. The licenses will become valid on Jan. 1.”

That means over the next month, county and city commissions are scrambling to create emergency regulations for approval of temporary licenses. Unfortunately, that also means some areas won’t have any adult-use dispensaries, if local boards vote against such activity. For those areas which allow for recreational licensing, dispensaries will submit paperwork to the Bureau of Cannabis Control in Sacramento showing they have local approval.

“…dispensaries already selling medicinal marijuana can choose whether they want a medicinal license, an adult-use license or both, provided the shop labels its merchandise “A” for adult or “M” for medicinal and keeps separate transaction records.”

Temporary licenses will last 120 days with the possibility of further extensions.

For the most part, consumers can expect to see dispensaries operating similarly to what they have in the past for medical purposes, but there will be some notable differences. First, product samples must meet testing requirements, and the quantities of THC and CBD must be labeled. Second, cannabis cannot be sold if it has been removed from packaging in order to smell and more closely inspect the product, both very reasonable practice from a public health perspective.

As with all policy everywhere, creating regulation is an ongoing process. One can be assured that there will be changes continuing at the state and local levels for the expanding cannabis market.

Stay on top of California’s cannabis industry changes with the International Cannabis Business Conference! Our next event will take place in San Francisco on February 1st and 2nd, 2018. Get your tickets today!