California Medical Marijuana Regulations Discussed

California Medical Marijuana Regulations Discussed


By Brian Bahouth and Patricia Smith

On Friday evening September 11, 2015, with just hours remaining before the end of session deadline, the California Senate passed AB 266, a bill that would establish an elaborate multi-agency bureaucracy to regulate the state’s vast and largely unregulated medical cannabis system, a legislative feat that has eluded California lawmakers since the passage of the nation’s first medical marijuana program in 1996, Prop 215.  On the same Friday night of the Labor Day weekend lawmakers also passed a companion bill, AB 243, groundbreaking water quality standards for cannabis cultivation intended to work in consort with AB 266 …

AB 266 and AB 243 are on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, so to speak, and he is likely  to sign both measures into law considering his office brokered the final language of each …

In that context, on Friday the 18th of September Patricia Smith and I hosted a live call-in version of Cannabis Crusades on KVMR FM, a storied community station that serves one of the most verdant cannabis cultivation regions in California.  Attorney Stephen Munkelt, a noted cannabis defense specialist, was our guest, and we discussed provisions of the bill and took listener calls.  The need to talk about the new regulations was palpable.  Phone lines were jammed the entire show.  Listener comments and questions and Stephen’s thoughtful and well-informed answers offer a glimpse into the future and what kind of medical cannabis industry will come of these new regulations … (51:26) …




Thanks to Heidi Starr for engineering the program …

Hear an interview with long-time head of California NORML Dale Giering regarding the new medical cannabis regulations.

Below are excerpts from AB 266 for your reference while listening to the program.


The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Text Highlights:

“This bill, among other things, would enact the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRA) for the licensure and regulation of medical marijuana and would establish within the Department of Consumer Affairs the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, under the supervision and control of the Director of Consumer Affairs.”

The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act would impose a system of 17 license categories … and notice, no single licensee can own more the 3 retail outlets … see line “o”

License Categories:
(a) Type 1 = Cultivation; Specialty outdoor; Small.
(b) Type 1A = Cultivation; Specialty indoor; Small.
(c) Type 1B = Cultivation; Specialty mixed-light; Small.
(d) Type 2 = Cultivation; Outdoor; Small.
(e) Type 2A = Cultivation; Indoor; Small.
(f) Type 2B = Cultivation; Mixed-light; Small.
(g) Type 3 = Cultivation; Outdoor; Medium.
(h) Type 3A = Cultivation; Indoor; Medium.
(i) Type 3B = Cultivation; Mixed-light; Medium.
(j) Type 4 = Cultivation; Nursery.
(k) Type 6 = Manufacturer 1.
(l) Type 7 = Manufacturer 2.
(m) Type 8 = Testing.
(n) Type 10 = Dispensary; General.
(o) Type 10A = Dispensary; No more than three retail sites.
(p) Type 11 = Distribution.
(q) Type 12 = Transporter.


Development of Standards and Regulations:

The Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation may convene an advisory committee to advise the bureau and licensing authorities on the development of standards and regulations … The advisory committee members shall be determined by the chief.

“The advisory committee members may include, but not be limited to, representatives of the medical marijuana industry, representatives of medical marijuana cultivators, appropriate local and state agencies, appropriate local and state law enforcement, physicians, environmental and public health experts, and medical marijuana patient advocates.”


Local Control …

The ability for cities or counties to prohibit or otherwise ban commercial cannabis activity from their jurisdictions is well illuminated in AB 266 … those who operate cannabis businesses will have to get state and local permits …

“Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted to supersede or limit existing local authority for law enforcement activity, enforcement of local zoning requirements or local ordinances, or enforcement of local permit or licensing requirements.”


Multi-Agency Approach …

There will be a multi-agency approach to regulating medical cannabis …

Along with AB 266, lawmakers also passed AB 243, a measure that would establish water quality standards for cannabis cultivation …

The State Water Resources Control Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife, from establishing fees to support their medical cannabis regulatory programs. The Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the State Department of Public Health.


Product Certification and Packaging:

All medical cannabis will undergo a series of assessments for quality assurance before distribution … at a minimum, dried cannabis must be tested, by a licensed, independent laboratory, for concentration, pesticides, mold, and other contaminants …

Licensed cultivators and manufacturers shall package or seal all medical cannabis and medical cannabis products in tamper-evident packaging and use a unique identifier, as prescribed by the Department of Food and Agriculture, for the purpose of identifying and tracking medical cannabis or medical cannabis products.



The Department of Consumer affairs will license companies for delivery of cannabis where expressly authorized by local ordinance …


Licensed Manufacturers and Laboratories:

The State Department of Public Health will license cannabis product manufacturers and testing laboratories.

Manufacturing level 1, for manufacturing sites that produce medical cannabis products using nonvolatile solvents.

Manufacturing level 2, for manufacturing sites that produce medical cannabis products using volatile solvents.

The Department of Public Health will license laboratories … cannabis and cannabis products must, at a minimum be tested for:

(A) Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
(B) Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA).
(C) Cannabidiol (CBD).
(D) Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA).
(E) The terpenes described in the most current version of the cannabis inflorescence monograph published by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.
(F) Cannabigerol (CBG).
(G) Cannabinol (CBN).
(H) Any other compounds required by the State Department of Public Health.



Prior to delivery or sale at a dispensary, medical cannabis products shall be labeled and in a tamper-evident package.

All medical cannabis product labels shall include the following information, prominently displayed and in a clear and legible font:
(A) Manufacture date and source.
(C) The statement “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS” in bold print.
(D) The statement “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY.”


Privacy – Patient Registry …

Information identifying the names of patients, their medical conditions, or the names of their primary caregivers received and contained in records kept by the office or licensing authorities …

“Information shall not be disclosed by any state or local agency beyond what is necessary to achieve the goals of a specific investigation, notification, or the parameters of a specific court order or subpoena.”