Reuters 9 October 2015
California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law the state’s first comprehensive regulations of medical marijuana, two decades after legalization fueled a wild west of disparate local rules, a gray market in cultivation and concerns about the ease of obtaining the drug.
The package of three laws, viewed by some as a possible framework for the eventual legalization of recreational marijuana in the most populous U.S. state, would establish a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation and oversee such activities as cultivation and dispensary licensing.
The bills, which take effect in 2018, “establish a long-overdue comprehensive regulatory framework for the production, transportation and sale of medical marijuana,” Brown, a Democrat, said in a signing statement on Friday.
The legislation regulates the cultivation of marijuana, which now frequently takes place on hidden gray market farms that strip water from the state’s forests. The laws also require state tax and agriculture officials to develop a way to track the sale and development of marijuana products, which remain illegal under federal law.
For years, the U.S. government’s pot ban made California lawmakers reluctant to bring themselves into the conflict between federal and state law by creating rules for medical cannabis, said Assemblyman Jim Wood, a Democrat who authored one of the bills signed by Brown.
Then in the last three years, voters in Colorado, Washington state, Alaska and Oregon legalized the drug for recreational use.