California’s top cannabis regulators said Thursday evening that while progress is being made to bring a fledgling regulated cannabis market online, there are still many hurdles to cross before the vision of Proposition 64 is fully realized.
Kicking off the “First 60 Days of Proposition 64” hearing in Ukiah on Thursday alongside state Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), state Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) said that the state’s medical and recreational cannabis market has the potential for job growth, community development and reining in an environmentally destructive and violent black market.
But he also said that nothing about the transition to the new era of legalization has been easy for the state, local communities or the industry.
“But if the state gets this wrong the promise of Proposition 64 won’t be kept,” McGuire said. “And as I have always said, this is a tall mountain to climb and we are currently building the airplane and flying it at the same time.”
Cannabis regulators from Mendocino, Humboldt and Sonoma counties outlined their challenges at the local level of permitting a new industry while the state’s own rules are still evolving.
Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar was blunt with his concerns about the future of the industry.
Linegar said overburdening local regulations may actually be perpetuating the black market and are driving out small farmers in favor of larger, corporate grows. He said this is occurring by subjecting farmers to high regulatory costs that can range up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, stringent environmental standards that other agricultural industries do not have to meet and creating business uncertainty as rules continue to change.
“If the overall goal of the program was to create a regulatory scheme that favored a corporate, big-dollar, new money industry then I think we have succeeded,” Linegar said. “If the goal was to create a workable regulatory pathway for existing cultivators to become legal I think we have failed.”
Other than protecting public safety and controlling odor, Linegar said cannabis should be treated no differently than any other crop.