RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. -- The State Bureau of Cannabis Control will be in Oakland Wednesday, working to finalize the state's rules on growing and selling recreational cannabis. The Bureau hit its latest target, requiring all pot be tested before it hit store shelves the first of this month. But, it was just one of the many hurdles ahead.
Outside of Sacramento, the state Bureau of Cannabis is busy bringing thousands of retailers into compliance with state law.
"Things are going as well as expected, of course, there is still a lot of work to be done, there's still a lot of issues to be resolved, but we're working hard here," said Lori Ajax, the state's cannabis czar.
It's her job to make the rules to regulate the state's new cannabis industry.
The biggest change since recreational cannabis became legal this year, was requiring all pot on dispensary shelves be tested for safety. That was the law as of July 1 and it led to shortages on store shelves because there are not enough labs to examine all the weed.
"The first few days after July first were a little rough for some of the folks that hadn't established relationships with distributors to get compliant product," said Ajax.
There are 31 labs statewide to inspect cannabis from 385 distributors who sell thousands of products.
"It's multiple times more busy," said Lori Glauser of EVIO Labs in Berkeley. It tests weed for potency as well as dangerous chemicals.
"We're testing for 66 pesticides, and were also testing for microbiological contaminants, such as e-coli, salmonella, apratoxins, and we're also looking for foreign matter and foreign material in the product," said Glauser.
EVIO Labs is planning to open three more labs around the state by the end of the year to help meet the growing demand.
More labs can't come soon enough for the state department of food and agriculture.
Richard Parrott is with CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing. "People have said we are building the plane as we're flying, we're building the car as we are driving," he said.
The department issued nearly 4,000 temporary licenses to growers when recreational pot became legal. Now those permits are expiring, and growers must apply for permanent licenses.
"With cannabis, we will have a statewide track and trace system that will track from the farm to the retail...you generally don't have something that robust in general agriculture," Parrot said.
Many farmers who grow weed have been surprised by the number of rules and regulations.
Mikal Jakubal owns a cannabis nursery in the infamous Emerald Triangle in Northern California, which has been at the epicenter of pot growing for decades.
Jakubal says some small cannabis growers are finding themselves struggling to meet the expensive requirements.
"A lot of them that would like to be legal, who wanted legalization for 40 years now suddenly find themselves shut out of the permit process because it's expensive, it is complicated, and they just look at it and realize that 'I can't do this,'" said Jakulbal.
He says it cost him roughly $80,000 just to bring his property up to current requirements, that doesn't include licenses, taxes, and state fees to operate.
The state says it is just implementing the voter-approved law, and now everyone, regardless of size, has to abide by it if they want to stay in business.
"I think as more and more cultivators do get licensed, I think that we will see more and more of an effort to try and have something be done those people who aren't playing by the rules," said Parrott.
Rules that continue to evolve.
California Bureau of Cannabis Control crafting rules for marijuana businesses
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