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California Governor’s Proposal To Make Starting A Marijuana Business Easier

Gov. Jerry Brown disclosed a proposal last week to simplify statewide rules that regulate medical and recreational marijuana sales and production, in anticipation of the launching of the recreational cannabis industry in California in 2018. The proposal, if approved by the Legislature, would allow it to be simpler to take up a marijuana business in the Golden State.

“Brown’s administration has designed a tight, extensive regulatory framework that protects consumers, workers, public health, the environment and small business stakeholders, while ensuring an inclusionary framework that opens up access for individuals with low income and communities of color,” Lynne Lyman, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement.

Under the proposal, only state licenses would be required for marijuana businesses, unless local municipalities choose to require local licenses as well. State licenses wouldn’t be accessible to entrepreneurs who want to set up shop in municipalities where marijuana businesses are prohibited.

Measure M, which was put on the ballot by the City Council was recently approved by Los Angeles voters. It lets the city to issue local licenses for marijuana businesses.

“L.A. can decide to do its own licensing,” DPA staff attorney Jolene Forman says. “It’s simply not mandated.”

Advocates had been concerned that the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), passed by the state Legislature in 2015, would put all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles out of business because it required local licenses — something City Hall didn’t allow — by January 1. Measure M mended that issue. But now, it might not be a problem.

The governor’s proposal also favored the licensing of smaller “microbusinesses” by streamlining the permitting process to guarantee a more comprehensive collection of would-be marijuana entrepreneurs to have a chance to get in on the green rush.

“Somebody could grow small amounts of marijuana, process in small quantities and sell it in their very own retail store,” Forman says. “This decreases barriers to entry for smaller businesses. It’d likewise enable more diversity in the market.”

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR), which controls medical and recreational marijuana, would get a name change to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, spokesman Alex Traviso said via e-mail.

A group of local marijuana businesses which has lobbied City Hall to legalize marijuana delivery, appeared reasonably pleased with the governor’s proposal.

“We’re carefully reviewing the proposal but applaud the state for proposing much-needed reconciliations between medical and recreational laws,” said task force director Ruben Honig. “L.A.’s cannabis industry is one of the world’s biggest, and we must have a system that’s clear, streamlined and enables businesses and patients to flourish.”

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