Went to the cannabis summit last week in Ukiah. It was the last of 24 public meetings held around the State of California. The summit was moderated and promoted by the California Growers Association and the Harvest Law Group. Yes, these are serious entities holding public meetings statewide following the signing of three medical marijuana bills by Governor Brown. There were only about 80 people in the audience, more or less. Moderated by Hezekiah Allen, the brains behind the California Growers Association, he is currently a medical marijuana lobbyist in Sacramento who was instrumental in the development of the three historic bills which became law last October. It was a contemporary state of the art discussion, or could it be these marijuana laws are the art of the State. Needless to say it was an interesting free public forum.
Joining Allen were several California State government employees. There was a representative from Fiona Ma’s region of the Board of Equalization, an assistant to State Senator Rob Bonta, a North Coast Regional Water Quality representative and a gun and badge toting Fish and Wildlife supervisor representing the State marijuana enforcement team (who said he is focussed on the massive illegal cartel grows on public an private lands) There were a few emotional exchanges from the audience directed at the Fish and Wildlife law guy, but all in all it was civilized well articulated communication from both sides.
The outreach offered lots of information. I went representing the Mendocino Herb Company. Surely the savvy internet surfers out there have already digested the nuts and bolts of the upcoming legal changes, but to listen to the actual players talk about the future evolution of the laws helped to acknowledge and recognize the real work is just beginning. Government works incrementally, like the slowest bike chain sprocket spinning one cog at a time. It is spinning right now. Interested individuals can and do have a chance to make a difference in shaping the upcoming laws…right now in this moment. How you ask, well by engaging with your local politicians at home or by concisely communicating with California Growers Association for any State level recommendations.
A look around the room saw a mix of men and women, younger and older alike. To look at legendary activist and grower Tim Blake in the eye, who sitting quietly across the theater, spoke volumes to the importance of this gathering. The Swami, a most eloquent orator himself, and his wife were sitting in the audience too. Of course the whole thing started with Casey O’Neill breaking the ice most casually and smoothly. The Cannabis Summit was a focussed well run and informative 3 hours with no organized breaks for anyone. (hint hint)
There was talk of the future evolution of the new laws and how they involve some additional options and refinements of the existing language. Of most interest is the potential creation of a “micro business” license tentatively called 5b. In the State Legislature there is also discussion of allowing personal transportation by the farmers to a distribution center, so long as the haul or batch is under a yet to be defined threshold weight. These are both enlightening developments as they will help out the smallest farmers the most should they come to pass.
Also of interest is the discussion to creat a cannabis banking system with the State to reduce the amount of cash only transactions. Another interesting note, through a show a hands, indicated only about 1/3 of the audience had already registered with the Board of Equalization (taxes). The audience was encouraged to get on board as it is a compliance requirement to be eligible for any license in 2018. Full compliance with the adopted State and local laws will be critical for any legitimate business to flourish in the coming marketplace.
So some of the ideas presented were only for those attending, but basically the meeting had a quick review of the recently passed laws from last October 2015. It provided an introduction to the required compliance hoops, which must be jumped through to get a license. It also communicated a glimpse into the future regarding the upcoming changes, which by the way are coming very soon. If you are interested in applying for any available license you need to learn how to be compliant with laws. The main reason for this is to be some what protected by the blanket of State sanctioned bureaucracy regulating medical marijuana.