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California's Medical Marijuana Industry Is Getting New Regulations for 2018

As California preps for recreational weed sales, the state’s medical industry will get stricter testing, packaging, and dosing standards.

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California is having a hard time figuring out regulations for their newly legal recreational cannabis industry. Governor Jerry Brown and his administration have proposed legislation that would merge the state’s two decade old medical industry with the new recreational laws, but Brown’s plan is facing criticism from opponents who say it gives too much power to big business cannabis capitalists. But while lawmakers stare down the ticking clock of 2018’s recreational sales start date, state regulators have put forward a brand new plan to clean up California’s medical industry, with a seed to sale structure that will hopefully take the guesswork out of shopping for pot.

According to SFGate, California cannabis regulators released the 144 page draft of the new rules Friday afternoon, and it will now enter a 45-day comment period before becoming law.

Included in that law would be a seed to sale cultivation system that requires each plant to be tracked and tested before it reaches dispensary shelves, an eight ounce per day purchasing limit for patients, and strict regulations for edibles that will cap doses at 10mg and entire packages at 100mg.

For America’s oldest medical marijuana market, that has for years operated under a loose regulatory framework, the strict rules are being heralded as the first move into California’s future as the world’s legal weed epicenter.

“It’s a very big deal. All of the nitty-gritty details about how people will operate and what things they’ll need to do to get compliant or stay compliant — that all comes out in these rules,” Nicole Howell Neubert, a cannabis industry attorney told SFGate. “This is the next step toward having a more regulated marketplace in California, the largest cannabis market in the U.S. It’s super important,”

But while the new regulations will theoretically eliminate the threat of pesticides, mold and strain name swapping from dispensary shelves, it also might add a few dollars to the price tags of California’s medical weed.

Experts estimate that the new rules will cost more for canna-businesses to implement, and add an approximate 10% cost hike to medicinal cannabis products.

Hezekiah Allen, director of the California Growers Association, who approved the plan, told SFGate that small businesses will face less of financial burden, and that customers will be getting what they pay for under the new regulations.

“So far I think we’re feeling pretty positive about costs and the fees,” Allen said. “The consumer is also getting something for that premium price — mandatory testing, knowledge and confidence the product was grown by folks (who) were following the rules and taxes were being paid.”

Besides, as cannabis becomes for mainstream and recreational legalization finds its rhythm next year, prices will no doubt drop again thanks to increased competition and more streamlined cultivation.

Hopefully the new medical regulations can serve as a signpost for Governor Brown and the rest of the state legislature tasked with implementing similar guidelines on the recreational side of California’s cannabis industry.

The new medical rules are expected to start going into effect by the end of this year, and continue to be implemented through 2018.