The State Legislature approved the Medical Marijuana Regulations and Safety Act (MMRSA), a trio of bills designed to license and regulate commercial medical cannabis activity, last year. When the MMRSA is fully implemented in January of 2018, the state will issue seventeen types of licenses for legal medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, testing, dispensing, and delivery. State regulatory agencies will also promulgate rules and regulations for license holders.
The MMRSA requires applicants for state medical cannabis licenses to obtain a license, permit, or approval from the city or county in which they operate or propose to operate. Local jurisdictions retain broad latitude to regulate the time, manner, and place in which medical cannabis businesses and organizations can operate.
Support and Need for Licensed Cultivation, Manufacturing & Retail
· Voters support licensing and regulating commercial medical cannabis activity. According to a survey of likely voters conducted by Southern California Research in January of this year, 65% of voters would support a local ballot measure that would allow “companies to cultivate medical marijuana for sale to dispensaries, so long as the cultivation does not take place in residential areas…”
· The State of Nevada has licensed almost four million square feet of medical cannabis cultivation to serve a state with only 7.4% of our population.
· The MMRSA empowers cities and counties to assess additional taxes on commercial medical cannabis cultivation. Californians spent $2.7 billion on medical cannabis in2015, and most analysts expect that number to rise – especially if voters approve the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) in November of this year. The AUMA will legalize cannabis for non-medical use for Californians who are twenty-one years old or older.
· If the city does not license and tax commercial medical cannabis cultivation, other cities in the region will. The cities of Desert Hot Springs, Coachella, Cathedral City, Palm Springs, San Diego, Oakland and Humboldt already have licensing ordinances. Other cities will follow suit soon. Failing to license and tax medical cannabis cultivation means forfeiting the city’s fair share of tax revenue to other jurisdictions.
· While we understand there will be taxation on medical cannabis, we advocate for reasonable taxation that does not inflate costs and incentivize the unlicensed market.
· Tens of thousands of California’s work in the medical cannabis industry today. Many of these individuals are already employed in the relatively labor-intensive process of cultivating medical cannabis. The industry will create thousands of new jobs as the market for legal medical cannabis and possibly non-medical cannabis expands.
· Based on a survey of our membership these sites employee an average of six-forty people earning an average of $21.50 per hour.
· Jobs in the medical cannabis industry traditionally pay higher than average wages.
· Labor unions are already organizing workers in the emerging medical cannabis industry. Union workers tend to earn higher wages, enjoy more robust benefits, and work in safer environments.
· Payroll tax receipts will rise dramatically when the medical cannabis cultivation industry emerges from the shadows as a legitimate industry.
· Some cities in the region have already adopted licensing ordinances, and others will do so soon. Failing to license and tax medical cannabis cultivation means forfeiting the city’s fair share of good jobs in the growing industry.
· Research and experience show that sensible regulations for medical cannabis reduce crime and complaints in neighborhoods.
· Licensed medical cannabis cultivators are more likely to be law abiding good neighbors, because they have a legitimate stake and investment in their community.
· Licensed medical cannabis cultivators can enjoy police protection, just like any other legal business. This will improve safety for workers and neighbors. Unlicensed cultivators may be reluctant to call the police in an emergency, which could embolden burglars and other criminals. In the absence of police protection, unlicensed cultivators are more likely to rely on weapons, booby traps, or other methods that are dangerous to neighbors and law enforcement.
· Licensing medical cannabis cultivation will give law enforcement and city regulators certainty about who the good players are in the community. This will make policing and regulating medical cannabis cultivation safer and easier.
· Local licensing requirements and existing building codes can help to ensure that indoor medical cannabis cultivation occurs in buildings with appropriate electrical fixtures and plumbing. There is no mechanism for policing un-licensed cannabis cultivation.
· Licensed medical cannabis cultivators must participate in a state-mandated “track and trace” program that follows medical cannabis from seed to sale. This means that cannabis lawfully cultivated for medical use by a license holder will be difficult to divert for non-medical use.
· Some jurisdictions have proposed using off-duty Police Officers as security personnel for medical cannabis businesses and organizations. This could be a financial boon for local law enforcement.
· Medical cannabis has a long track record for safety, but as the industry expands, there is the potential for greater risks to legal patients. Licensing medical cannabis cultivation allows the city control over safety issues, including contamination or adulteration.
· State regulators will develop comprehensive safety protocols for medical cannabis cultivation as part of the MMRSA. Because state licensing is contingent on local licensing, patients in Inyo County will only benefit from these protocols if locally cultivated medicine comes from a facility that is also licensed by the city
· Medical cannabis can be cultivated indoors, outdoors, or in greenhouses. Local cultivators are likely to cultivate indoors or in greenhouse due to local climate.
· The region has an opportunity to pioneer environmentally friendly and sustainable medical cannabis cultivation in its licensing process. The city has the option of requiring or incentivizing water reclamation equipment, carbon offsets, alternative energy sources, and operation during periods of off-peak electrical usage.