In a statewide debate on Wednesday, California police and cannabis growers opposed Gov. Jerry Brown’s new cannabis regulation proposal. The proposal was designed to streamline the rapidly-expanding cannabis industry. But the two groups said it could lead to the creation of marijuana monopolies. And that, they fear, could harm public safety in the long run.
Governor Brown’s Proposal
Brown’s proposal called for a dramatic shift in recreational weed law. If it passes, recreational and medical cannabis will both follow a new set of streamlined regulations.
Under current law, medical marijuana distributors cannot have licenses to sell and to grow. They are only allowed to have one or the other. But Brown’s legislation would change that.
His plan suggested lifting those regulations. The change wouldn’t go into effect until the beginning of next year. That’s when recreational weed becomes legal to sell.
Brown and other lawmakers see this as a way to make the entire industry more efficient.
In particular, Brown’s administration said it would help avoid duplicating costs. Similarly, they said it would reduce business confusion within the legal marijuana industry.
Streamlining the cannabis industry is a concern for lawmakers as they prepare for rapid growth in the coming years. California’s cannabis industry is expected to top $7 billion in annual sales by the end of 2018.
Lori Ajax, head of the Bureau of Cannabis Medical Regulation, said Brown’s plans would “build an effective statewide regulatory system.” But it would do so without creating too many “burdensome” rules.
She also added that the proposal “harmonizes” the recreational and medical cannabis industries.
Fear Of Weed Monopolies And “Big Marijuana”
But not everyone agreed with Brown’s ideas. In particular, the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) fears the legislation could lead to cannabis monopolies. The group said Brown’s proposal would allow a single business to monetize the entire process.
CPCA associate Ken Corney said that if Brown’s law passes, a single company would be allowed to “grow, distribute, manufacture, and sell retail marijuana.”
And the way the cops see it, this could open the door to increased criminal activity.
Law enforcement groups supported medical cannabis. But they opposed legalizing recreational weed. Last November, California voters approved Prop 64, which legalizes adult-use cannabis. Recreational weed sales will begin Jan. 1, 2018.
But cops aren’t the only ones who opposed Brown’s idea. Cannabis growers also voiced concern.
Hezekiah Allen, head of the California Growers Association, spoke out against the proposal. He said he’s afraid it would encourage mega-manufacturers and mega-chain stores.
He asked the governor to ban “a single business from owning more than three retails stores and operating a farm larger than four acres.”
Simply put, Allen wants to keep big corporations out of the cannabis industry. But he said Brown’s proposal would make it easier for that to happen.