California’s New Marijuana Rules Have Been Released. Here Are Some Highlights.

While you were all enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, we were reviewing California’s new emergency cannabis regulations, released by the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Department of Public Health. The 276 pages of do’s and don’ts clear up months of confusion for cities, counties and businesses just ahead of the kickoff for recreational sales on Jan. 1.

Here are some things to know:

Everything is temporary. The licenses being handed out will be good for four months. The emergency rules themselves are also subject to change.

You first need local government’s say. To get one of these permits, applicants must first present authorization from their local government agencies. As our readers know, many cities and counties have already said they’re not on board.

Marijuana businesses will have to fork over a lot of money. Applicants will pay $500 to $1,000 just to apply for a permit. The licensing fees then vary depending on the operation’s type and size -- from as little as $500 a year (marijuana transporters) to a whopping $125,000 annually for the largest distributors doing product testing. Consumers are going to be shouldering much of the burden, along with a 15 percent excise tax and other local fees. That has raised fears that California’s black market could continue to thrive.

There’s No Limit on Farm Size. Perhaps the most significant impact of the new rules has to do with a cap -- or lack thereof -- on the size of cannabis farms.

The Press Democrat explains:

…The most controversial aspect of the regulations is what’s missing: Any limit to the size of marijuana farms.

That immediately posed a threat to established growers, including the smaller operations that blanket the North Coast.

“It is going to be a catastrophe if California increases our supply of cannabis. The marketplace is already flooded,” said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association.

“We’re already producing several times more than we need. Why would we scale up?”

Allen believes that the failure to cap farm size could jeopardize the state’s entire industry.

But there is a limit on what you can buy. Adult-use customers are allowed to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana, eight grams of concentrate, and six plants. For medical marijuana patients, the rules are little different. They can have up eight ounces.

Safety first. All cannabis dispensaries must be equipped with a 24-hour surveillance system and their doors cannot stay open past 10 p.m.

Edibles will be significantly limited. Edible marijuana products will be limited to no more than 100 milligrams of THC per package. Serving sizes must contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC. This nixes some popular products out there right now. To prevent marketing to children, they also can’t contain any cartoons or other child-friendly material, they can’t contain the word “candy” in any branding, and they cannot be produced in the shape of a human, inset or fruit.

Wine and lobster pairings are also out. The new rules prohibit businesses from combining cannabis with alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, seafood, or dairy products with the exception of butter.

No freebies. Free samples will be limited to medical marijuana patients only.

A win for deliveries, but not by drone. Marijuana delivery services will be able to apply for permits, but they’ll be limited to cars only. Boats, aircraft and other unconventional delivery methods are out.

Got some time on your hands? Read the regulations for yourself here, here, and here