6 new things we learned from California’s cannabis czar

SAN FRANCISCO — Lori Ajax, chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, talked to the Bay Area News Group on Friday at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco.

We wanted to find out what’s up with the state’s law legalizing recreational marijuana. Here are the most interesting things we learned:

1. The state’s on schedule — so you may actually be able to walk into a store and buy marijuana on Jan. 1, 2018. That’s because Ajax may start issuing temporary licenses.

“We are going to issue licenses” on Jan. 1, she said. “We may issue temporary licenses until we complete our background investigations.”

But it’s going to take awhile for the whole system to ramp up.  “There is no possible way we can issue everybody a license on Day 1,” she said. “For some people, it make take a few months.

“We expect to accept applications on Day 1,  we expect our licensing system will be in place, where you can go online to apply.”

But if you have a medical marijuana card, relax: It’s business-as-usual. Under the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, if you have a local permit you are allowed to continue cultivation and dispensing — until the state makes a final decision on applications.

2. Want a commercial growing license? Talk to your local officials. Now.

“You have to be in compliance with your local jurisdiction before we issue a license,” Ajax said.

And because there will be limits to the number of “Type 3” licenses — which will allows licensees to grow up to one acre outdoors — you’ll need to hurry to make sure you’re at the front of the line.

3. Colorado, Washington and Oregon have offered some helpful hints — but only up to a point.

“Colorado had issues with edibles and overconsumption — and it getting into the hands of kids. Washington taxed very high. We can learn from that,” she said. “Those are important lessons for us to look at — to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes here.”

California has a lot more commercial cannabis than these other states. And we’re really diverse — culturally and geographically, she noted.

“At the end of the day, we’ve had a cannabis industry for two decades,” she said. “We need to learn from our own folks. We need to do the best model for California.”

THE REMAINDER OF THIS ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND AT: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/17/6-new-things-we-learned-from-californias-cannabis-czar/

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