Marijuana Grows Up

California’s new law regulating medical marijuana takes effect Friday, professionalizing the industry in the state.(growweedeasy/morguefile)

New California State Law Took Effect Friday the 1st 

Suzanne Potter / California News Service

California’s medical marijuana industry is growing up fast, so to speak, because a new law professionalizing the growth, sale and taxation of the plant went into effect on Friday January 1st, 2016.

The California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act establishes a new state agency, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, that will gear up and start issuing permits.

Dale Gieringer, director of the California division of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), says patients eventually will see more dispensaries set up shop.

“I think it’s going to result in more access, partly because it does allow for-profit operation,” says Gieringer, “and local governments are going to feel more comfortable with allowing state-regulated facilities than with unregulated facilities.”

Dozens of local municipalities are now moving to either allow or forbid medical marijuana sales within their borders. By some estimates, the state and cities stand to make $1 billion a year in taxes once the industry builds out.

Gieringer says the industry has evolved enormously, just in the past few years.

“The industry itself has taken a lot of steps to increase testing of products, maintain certain standards with regards to pesticides,” he says. “But a lot more has to be done, and it’s going to be done with state guidance.”

Next November, voters will weigh in on a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use.