3 Things Cannabis Consumers Should Demand

August 22,2018 | By Jacqueline McGowan

California was presented with a much more unique challenge following the legalization of cannabis for adult use than any other state in America has thus far. This is due to the fact that we have had a thriving multi-billion dollar grey market in existence well before the new law took effect. Being the first state to legalize cannabis for medicinal use in 1996 has meant that we have had a robust and thriving industry that consumers have become accustomed to. Transitioning cannabis from a quasi-legal industry into a heavily regulated one, and in a very short time, has proven to be a much more demanding process than anyone could have envisioned.

“Building a Plane While Flying It”

Proposition 64’s implementation, coupled with the simultaneous implementation of medical regulations, has often been described as a period of time in which we are ‘building a plane while flying it’. Sounds impossible, right? Yet this, and similar analogies, are used repeatedly by our most trusted and ardent legislative advocates such as Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), and Asm. Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa.)

We are now in a situation where that plane’s check engine light is on. It’s flashing red urgently to warn us that we are in dangerous territory, and as passengers, we are experiencing extreme turbulence. From the testing bottlenecks that are taking multiple weeks to clear, to the lack of cities and counties that are willing to regulate, to the ever increasing anxiety of how, and when, exactly the state’s track and trace system will be implemented, there is no doubt that as consumers, we must help keep this plane in the air.

This turbulence in our new regulatory scheme has led to bare dispensary shelves all across this massive state. I think I hear the pilot on the intercom now! He has advised us to take our seats, and that consumers fasten their seatbelts, as we attempt to communicate to our lawmakers and regulators how we would like them to address and fix this rocky ride.

Consumers CAN help!

I would love to say that we have a plan to correct what consumers are the most upset about: high taxes and limited product selections. Unfortunately, the legislative process is a slow moving bureaucratic system that contains many hurdles we must clear in order to correct these core issues.

California’s cannabis economy is estimated to be $3.7 billion in value. That valuation not only means our elected officials are incentivized to ensure it become a fluid and robust one, it also means that there is weight behind our voice as consumers. A study released recently by Marketview Research Group found that one in five consumers are turning to the unregulated market to satisfy their needs. This may not be news to us, but it most definitely is to our lawmakers. Let us now assess what we can do to help ensure this plane doesn’t crash and burn, shall we? The following is a synopsis of where we are, and what we can do, as consumers, to ensure our voices are heard.

Draft Permanent Regulation Public Comment Period

On Friday July 13th, 2018 the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the California Department of Public Health, and the California Department of Food & Agriculture all announced the publication of their draft permanent regulations. Each agency is tasked with implementing various facets of the governing process to ensure that the supply chain produces safe products that consumers can rely upon. To that end, California is now in a critical 45 day public comment period that is set to expire on August 27th, 2018 at 5pm. The industry needs your voice now!

3 Critical Issues Consumers Can Address

1. Delivery

PROBLEM: Roughly 85% of local jurisdictions across California have either passed ordinances prohibiting cannabis delivery operators from conducting business in their jurisdictions, or have failed to implement a key component of consumer access that nearly 8 million people in the state voted for when we checked “Yes” on Proposition 64 at the ballot box almost two entire years ago.

In order to protect our right to safe access, we must support BCC Regulation Section 5416(d), which would provide access for patients and consumers by clarifying that drivers of licensed cannabis delivery businesses can travel on public roads and deliver into any jurisdiction within the State of California.

SOLUTION: A Bay Area based and licensed delivery service “We Drop” has created a thoughtful response to this section in a handy and user friendly link to make your support.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Click here to support: https://www.wedrop.co/regulation-5416

2. Track & Trace Failure

PROBLEM: BCC Regulation Section 5050(d) states that when a licensed business loses access to California’s online regulatory tracking software, they may not conduct business with other cannabis businesses, or with consumers, until their online access is restored. While the language was intended to affect individual businesses who lose access, the ambiguity could have unintended consequences that could shut down the entire marketplace should the state’s chosen track and trace company, Metrc, end up failing themselves.

Given that we are the largest consumer cannabis market in the world, and have birthed the famous Silicon Valley, we cannot and should not, be subject to becoming crippled by the potential failure of the state’s selected software provider. Just read here to see what the tiny state of Maryland with only 47,000 patients is currently experiencing.

SOLUTION: If you want your favorite retailer or delivery service to still be open when technology crashes, please write the BCC requesting they remove Section 5050(d) from the regulations.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Step 1: Email the BCC at BCC.comments@dca.ca.gov. Use ‘Regulation Section 5050(d)’ as the email subject line. A suggested comment can be made such as this: “Ms. Ajax, I am a California consumer. I am concerned that the regulation concerning the Metrc system may have unintended consequences for the California marketplace. Patients in Maryland were recently severely affected by a system failure. I request that the BCC seriously consider removing Regulation Section 5050(d) from the current regulations. Thank you.”

Step 2: Email the CDFA at (CalCannabisRegs@cdfa.ca.gov). Type “Reg 8402(e)(3)” in the email subject line. A suggested comment can be made such as this: “Dear CFDA, I am a California consumer. I am concerned that the regulation concerning the Metrc system may have unintended consequences for the California marketplace. Patients in Maryland were recently severely affected by a system failure. I request that the BCC seriously consider removing Regulation Section 8402(e)(3) from the current regulations. Thank you.”

Step 3: Email the CDPH at regulations@cdph.ca.gov. Type “DPH-17-010 Reg 40513(d)” in the email subject line. A suggested comment can be made such as this: “Dear CDPH, I am a California consumer. I am concerned that the regulation concerning the Metrc system may have unintended consequences for the California marketplace. Patients in Maryland were recently severely affected by a system failure. I request that the CDPH seriously consider removing Regulation Section 40513(d) from the current regulations. Thank you.”

3. Child Resistant Exit Bags

PROBLEM: If you have visited a licensed cannabis retailer during the first six months of the year, you have become acutely aware of the new law that mandates that your cannabis products be placed in bulky, plastic, and opaque child resistant exit bags. California consumers of all types of goods have repeatedly voted to reduce our incessant obsession with plastic, yet these companies somehow continue to prevail. Plastic bags, plastic straws, and plastic bottles are consistently forced upon us but we have found a way to at least address a portion of one of these three. The environmental impacts of child resistant exit packaging will inevitably draw the attention of California’s waste experts, and it is only a matter of time before a cannabis-friendly city bans plastic child resistant exit packaging because of the plastic waste, making this requirement an even more important one to immediately address.

SOLUTION: Many of our favorite brands invested heavily in updating their products to become tamper evident. This path should be continue to be followed. We should oppose the newly proposed BCC Regulation 5413, which would reinstate the requirement that all exit packaging be child resistant and ask that the status quo of child resistant packaging be required. Because necessity was the mother of invention, industry-dedicated packaging companies have developed creative and safe packaging (and yes, these are made with recycled materials). Consumers should remind California officials that we are trendsetting in our care for the environment and oppose the newly proposed BCC Regulation 5413.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

Two agencies are involved with packaging in California and they both need to hear from us.
Step 1: You can email the California Department of Public Health: regulations@cdph.ca.gov. The subject line should reference “CDPH-17-010 and Regulation 40415.” A sample email message may be, “I wanted to write to express my concern for the use of child resistant exit packaging. This is detrimental to the environment, and should go the way of single use plastic bags! We oppose the removal of this section and support the prior version of CDPH Regulation 40415 and request its reversal in the regulations. Thank you.”

Step 2: You can email the Bureau of Cannabis Control at BCC.comments@dca.ca.gov. The subject line should reference “BCC-Regulation 5413.” A suggested message may be, “Ms. Ajax, I wanted to write about the exit packaging requirements in the latest draft of regulations for the state of California’s cannabis operators. This packaging is bad for the environment, and adds an additional cost to the end consumer, who is already experiencing sticker shock at dispensaries. I’d like to request that BCC Regulation 5413 be removed from the regulations. Thank you for taking time to consider my suggestion during this valuable comment period.”

Thank Your Local Retailer

The turbulence we are experiencing is jarring, and it caught us all by surprise. We can however work together, so we can steady this plane. I sincerely hope you can make the time to take some of the suggested actions. I would also like to encourage you to talk with your local retailer, and thank them for the service they provide. Each and every one of them are doing the very best they can. We are hearing stories daily from owners who are taking the brunt of complaints. It is disheartening to hear that they are being blamed for something they have little to no control over. If you can, take a minute, share your concerns, but do give them a smile. Sometimes, a smile, and a thank you, can really go a long way. Here’s hoping for blue skies and HIGH flying.

If you would like to remain informed of the regulatory process regarding cannabis legislation in the state of California, you can start by joining the Facebook group run by Jacqueline McGowan, where she tracks what your city is thinking, what your county is considering, what your state is implementing, and what your federal government is up regarding the regulation of cannabis. The Facebook group is called “California- City & County Regulation Watch”, and it is one of the most active and informative discussion groups aimed at supporting regulatory compliance and the various issues posed by the state’s transition into the regulated marketplace. Become a member today.

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