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California Legislators Collaborate on Last-Minute Medical Cannabis Regulations

At long last, for the first time since it was legalized for medicinal use in 1996, California lawmakers have reached a long-awaited compromise on regulations for the state's medical cannabis industry. This will be the first major overhaul of California’s medical marijuana system in nearly two decades, and, needless to say, they’ve got some catching up to do.

Previously, several city and local jurisdictional authorities, such as San Diego and San Francisco, had taken it upon themselves to regulate the medical marijuana dispensaries in their community, although the rules vary from district to district. In a last-minute, 11th hour compromise, Governor Jerry Brown collaborated with Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) and Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) to draft a new proposal, a culmination of three different bills under consideration: Assembly Bill 243, Senate Bill 643, and Assembly Bill 266 will all be combined into into one overarching package of comprehensive cannabis legislation.

The proposal would create a new office, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BMMR), within the state Department of Consumer Affairs to oversee licensing and regulatory efforts. Several additional agencies, including the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health, would also be tasked with advising and providing expertise towards the successful implementation of new regulations.

Although the details are still being ironed out, the initiative would allow for the continued enforcement of local laws and regulations as they currently exist in certain cities. This proposal would set up the regulatory framework just in time for California’s 2016 push for recreational legalization, and hopefully make the transition from untamed medical to regulated recreation as seamless as possible.