The three California agencies that will regulate the state medical-marijuana industry released their proposed rules for the state system recently, and it appears some of the proposed regulations will conflict with existing Riverside County ordinances.
Counties may enact laws that modify or supersede certain aspects of state regulations.
In Riverside County, under Ordinance 348 adopted in October 2006, all medical-marijuana dispensaries remain prohibited in unincorporated areas of the county, including all Hill communities at this point in time. In section 3.4, that prohibition is specified: “In no event shall a medical marijuana dispensary or marijuana cultivation, as the terms are defined in this ordinance, be considered permitted or conditionally permitted uses in any zone classification . . . and if a use is illegal under federal or state law, it is prohibited.”
County supervisors will continue to review Proposition 64, its derivative regulations and proposed state medical-marijuana regulations and “blend” them with county regulations, as permitted by state law.
In the meantime, the proposed state rules, with public comment open until Tuesday, June 13, are only for medical marijuana. (Visit www.cannabis.ca.gov to make public comments.) Rules for recreational marijuana come later.
Major changes for patients include curtailed hours for dispensary operation — from 24/7 to maximum legal hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Local jurisdictions may further limit allowed hours.
Patients may only purchase 8 ounces (half a pound) per day unless a patient’s physician deems that amount insufficient to mollify the patient’s condition. Patients must be aged 21 or older to enter a dispensary’s limited-access areas, unless younger than 18 and accompanied by parent, legal guardian or primary caregiver. (An apparent unaddressed gap exists between ages 18 through 20.) Patient ID requires a physician’s recommendation for medical cannabis and valid proof of personal identification.
Home delivery is possible, but only by employees of the dispensary who are 21. Delivered meds must be signed for by the recipient patient at the time of delivery and delivery can only occur during dispensary operating hours.
State agencies estimate quality-control provisions will add about $500 more per year to patient costs, but state agencies affirm in the coming regulated market marijuana will be dosed correctly, tested and clean, hence justifying the added cost.
Regulations affecting cannabis business owners give military vets expedition on business license applications; require 600 feet distance of dispensaries from nearest schools; prohibit active-duty law enforcement from holding a license unless the licensed business is located in a county different from the one in which law enforcement personnel serve; require cannabis business facility renters to have written permission from the building owners to operate a cannabis business in the owned property; and require all business employees to have laminated ID badges issued by the licensee showing employee name, licensee name and employee’s passport-sized photograph.
Importantly, licensed dispensaries must be covered in video surveillance at all times and many business operations, including the destruction of returned medical cannabis, must be destroyed in full view of video cameras. Transportation of medical marijuana can only be in enclosed, human-operated vehicles.
The three state agencies regulate different aspects of the industry: The California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, licenses dispensaries and all medical marijuana businesses that do not grow cannabis or manufacture cannabis products. The California Department of Food and Agriculture licenses cannabis growers. The California Department of Health licenses manufacturers of cannabis products.