Thursday, June 15, marks a moment in history for California cannabis—the adoption of the Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA).
“The State Senate passed SB 94, the cannabis budget trailer bill, with a vote of 31 to 7. This vote came a short while after the State Assembly passed the bill with a vote of 66 to 3. With these two votes, the trailer bill is out of the state legislature and is fast-tracked to become state law,” said Hezekiah Allen, Executive Director of California Growers Association. “This law will be the foundation of regulated cannabis activity in the state, and is the culmination of nearly three years of focused work—work that brought together stakeholders representing a broad spectrum of perspectives and required the investment of tens of thousands of hours.”
“The big structural questions have been answered and it feels really, really good,” Hezekiah said. “Proposition 64 was pretty divisive and created factions within our community and in the first time in about a year or more, it all feels like we’re back on the same page.” The amended trailer bill received CGA’s “unconditional support,” mainly because it provides protection for smaller growers.
Senator Mike McGuire, who represents our cannabis rich county, has been the lead legislator in the Senate to help craft the cannabis budget trailer bill. Working with his colleagues, including Assemblymember Jim Wood, Senator McGuire developed bold solutions to some of the biggest challenges that have impacted the North Coast and California communities for years.
The budget trailer bill includes:
Enhancing environmental rules and regulations, including creating an organic standards program for cannabis
Opening a desperately needed North Coast one stop shop for tax and license collections which will be fully staffed
Implementing appellations for cannabis growing regions
Recognizing agricultural co-ops for cannabis growers, ensuring that small family cultivators can thrive in the new regulatory system
Preserving the ability for cities and counties to maintain local control and regulation of businesses in their hometowns
“The North Coast is the epicenter for cannabis cultivation in America and it has been critical that as state regulations are implemented, the North Coast is driving the conversation. The proposed new rules and regulations that are embedded in the budget will enhance environmental protections, advance local control for cities and counties and ensure the health and safety of consumers is priority number one as we continue to move this multi-billion dollar industry into the light,” Senator McGuire said.
For the past two years, Terra Carver, Executive Director for HCGA, worked closely with CGA both on the weekly policy call, and more recently as the Policy Committee co-chair. In addition, her frequent trips to Sacramento helped ensure that the needs and concerns of Humboldt County farmers were well represented as the legislative process moved forward.
Terra Carver said the amendments to the trailer bill would allow smaller farmers like those in Humboldt County to be able to better compete against larger farms and businesses across the state. “They will be able to utilize all their resources for processing centers, to create a unified brand and be able to band together and enter the market with a stronger presence,” Carver said.
Carver said the appellation of origin proposals would not only protect the Humboldt County name from being used to brand cannabis grown outside the county, but also varietals of cannabis and methods of production like "sungrown" or cannabis grown using rainwater catchment.
Hezekiah Allen said he appreciates the state is now recognizing the North Coast as a cannabis cultivation center of the world. “For someone like me who grew up on the North Coast hiding what we did and feeling ashamed of it, it feels really good to be recognized and acknowledged,” Allen said.
Environmental Impact Report
CalCannabis (CDFA) released its Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on Thursday, June 15. The DEIR analyzes the impacts of state’s cultivation licensing program under MCRSA, as it seeks to establish a regulatory licensing program that would ensure that commercial cannabis cultivation operations would be performed in a manner that protects the general public, cannabis cultivation workers, and the environment from the individual and cumulative effects of these operations.
“If you've never looked at an EIR before, prepare to be overwhelmed. It is a substantive document. It contains lots of important analysis and discussion. Our hat is off to CalCannabis for doing such a great job,” said Hezekiah Allen.
Comments on the DEIR are due within 45-days (July 31, 2017).
California Cannabis Regulations
It is important to understand that the revised trailer bill, the Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), replaces the Medical Cannabis Regulation Safety Act (MCRSA) and the Adult Use Marijuana Act (AUMA). This means that the agencies that are accepting public comments for cultivation, licensing, testing and manufacturing will be revising their regulations to reflect the newly adopted MAUCRSA using emergency rule-making processes under the Administrative Procedures Act. In addition, the Draft Environmental Impact Report from CalCannabis will also be updated to reflect the changes under MAUCRSA.
California Growers Association remains hard at work in the Capital, advocating on behalf of cannabis farmers, as agencies work incorporate public comments into the next versions of state regulations and environmental documents.