Last Thursday, the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulations (BMCR) gathered in downtown Los Angeles for a public hearing regarding the new statewide medical cannabis rules. We’re in the midst of a 60-day commenting period that ends on June 20, and the public is urged to give feedback on the proposed regulations. Last week’s hearing was held at 10 am in the middle of the work week, making it difficult for people to attend. That said, there were still a lot of people who showed up to speak to Lori Ajax, the chief of the BMCR, and her team of regulators.
There were a total of four people sitting in the front of the room, as if they were a part of a panel. The faces of the BMCR members were anything but enthused, and that’s likely because the hearing was five hours long and no one who spoke had many positive things to say about the proposed regulations. One of the main issues people grappled over is the fact that the delivery regulations are narrow. Under these proposed regulations it’s only legal if a delivery is linked to a dispensary. A delivery cannot operate as it’s own company independent of a storefront.
“I own three cannabis businesses here in Los Angeles,” Emily Meyers said to the BMCR. “These regulations you’ve issued are fear based and overreaching. Cannabis people are usually a pretty happy bunch, but you’re hearing a lot of unhappiness here… You’ve heard people from this audience pour their hearts out regarding the need and value of delivery services…The continued ambiguity surrounding this has created real problems… and we already have enough problems. I want to urge you to make an independent license type for non-storefront dispensaries, aka deliveries. You know, you used to put us in criminal prison, but now you’re putting us in regulatory prison.”
The audience applauded and people patted her on the back as she walked back to her seat. Several people after Meyers spoke, a representative from Weedmaps named Sean Donahoe addressed the BMCR about the delivery issue. “I strongly encourage the Bureau to establish independent licensing for delivery services,” Donahoe said sternly. “This is a critical point of the industry, and with track and trace tech platforms for delivery services we think that licensing can be accommodated without any loss of accountability.”
He also brought up the issue of the Bureau’s separation of medical and adult-use rules. “We are concerned about the separation of medical and adult use in the distribution layer of the regulations. The storage and the distribution needs of these products are identical, and we think it’s a significant cost increase to separate them…”
Shortly after Donahoe spoke, a woman named Jackie took the microphone and addressed how cannabis events fit into the equation. “The industry is full of events and more than several companies in this industry focus solely on events,” she said. “We need to have some sort of event license that is recognized and issued by the state.”
Jackie then went into alcohol codes, which the BMCR have much familiarity with considering they all come from the alcohol regulation industry. “There are 88 license codes for alcohol, and there are 86 license types. Number77 is an event permit. Number 86 is an instructional tasting license, and just for reference, number 44 is for the sale of beer on fishing party boats. If we are able to have beer on a fishing party boat, we should be able to have cannabis too.”
Everyone laughed and cheered in agreement. The BMCR didn’t seem as amused.
The first hearing ended around noon, and the second hearing focusing on lab testing picked up at 1pm. There were less people in the room for the second hearing, but those who were in attendance were the scientists and doctors of the industry. A man named Anthony Burke spoke first. “I am a PhD scientist and an inventor,” he said. “I have synthesized numerous compounds that have never been known to the world before. I’ve done the sample preparations, the sample analysis, and I understand all the chemistry and biology behind these things. Article 8, Section 5373 c1 about the employee education and experience requirements to be a lab director says that you must have a PhD and three years full-time experience in an accredited analytical laboratory. I believe this is a little excessive…”
The BMCR hearing went on until 2:30pm before the room was basically empty. It’s uncertain whether the Bureau will make any changes, and we likely won’t know until the end of the year, or Jan. 1, 2018. In the mean time, people have until June 20th to send in comments regarding the proposed regulations. Send your email to: [email protected] ; and check these guidelines before sending your drafted concerns.