On January 1st it will be legal to buy marijuana products in cities and counties that have agreed to allow it.
It's been a year since voters approved legalizing pot and three main state agencies have been created to license and regulate it. At the top of the list is the Bureau of Cannabis Control, Lori Ajax is its chief. She and her staff are jamming to get sales going January first.
"We think we are going to have a lot of interest we think we are going to have a lot of people applying for licenses we'll know more next month and so we are expecting a lot of people," Ajax said.
Workshops are being held around the state to try and explain the process.but applications for permits to grow and sell marijuana and to manufacture edible products have only been online for a couple of weeks.
So to get sales going temporary permits, with minimal requirements are being issued but they will not be available in many parts of the state.
"Not in all jurisdictions will you be able to do that, because in order to get a temporary license with the State of California you also need a local license permit or authorization from the city or county, where that cannabis activity is occurring," Ajax explained.
Once the temporary permit process ends, things get tougher. In order to get a license to grow and sell marijuana and its products, in addition to the Bureau of Cannabis Control, growers need permits from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Richard Parrot is the Director of the Cannabis Cultivation and Licensing Division. He acknowledges there are lots of rules to follow. It won't be like growing other crops.
"Because we are talking about an agricultural product but we are talking about a product that has a lot more regulation, I think there are more some stringent standards when you compare it to other products, but that's because this is a new industry that's coming into a regulated market and there's a lot of interest in not only protecting the public but also the environment," Parrot said.
For those who want to manufacture or sell edible projects, permits are needed from the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch, a division of the State Health Department. Miren Klein is the agencies' Assistant Deputy Director.
"What our regulations are addressing are sanitary conditions, good manufacturing practices as well as public health and safety of the product," Klein said.
During the temporary permit process, recreational sellers will be able to get their products from already licensed medicinal marijuana dispensaries but the THC levels of recreational products may not be as potent as medical grade stuff.
"What that means if an adult or a child unintentionally ingests this product, what type of an experience are they going to have?"
California's regulations seem onerous and difficult to follow for some attending the workshops but the state is taking the lead from Washington and Colorado, states that have already legalized recreational use and come up with rules.
Ajax said, "And so we have the benefit at looking at the lessons learned and applying them to California to hopefully minimize the impact they might have but we are hoping for a smooth transition next year."
It is important to remember that on January first you will only be able to walk in and buy it in cities and counties that agreed to make it legal.
Fresno and Clovis and Fresno County have banned sales. A couple Valley cities have given it tentative approval, but it's not clear when sales will start.
So it looks like for the time being the Bay Area, San Francisco and Oakland, Sacramento, and San Diego will be allowing recreational sales January 1st. LA is still working on regulations.
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