October 10, 2015
California Passes Historic Bills To Regulate Medical Marijuana Industry, Recreational Legalization Up Next

Marijuana could get legalized for recreational purposes in California as early as next fall.

California governor Jerry Brown signed a trio of bills that will help the state better regulate the licensing, producing and testing of medical marijuana within the flourishing industry, according to USA Today. The passing of the new bills finally establishes statewide rules for California's medical marijuana growers and sellers, with Brown describing the new move as "long-overdue comprehensive regulatory framework for the production, transportation, and sale of medical marijuana."

The governor also said that California is doing well to set a huge precedent to its Federal counterparts.

"This new structure will make sure patients have access to medical marijuana, while ensuring a robust tracking system. This sends a clear and certain signal to our federal counterparts that California is implementing robust controls not only on paper, but in practice."
It is almost two decades since California allowed the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but the use of recreational marijuana is still not legal in the state. Governor Brown, who has been vocal in the past about his desire to not allow adults to use marijuana for fun, said the set of comprehensive rules could apply to recreational marijuana if voters decide to make it legal by passing a ballot initiative in November next year.

Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, but it is only now that regulation of marijuana will begin in the state.
Medical marijuana activists protest against a recent raid at a pot farm in northern California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The move has been welcomed not only by marijuana advocates who have been vying hard for the regulation of marijuana in California, but also by wealthy technocrats who see a huge financial possibility if marijuana was to be legalized and regulated according to a set of new rules. One of the most prominent backers of the idea is Napster co-founder and Facebook investor Sean Parker.

According to sources, if marijuana is to be legalized in 2016, it will not only need a heavily-vetted campaign but a wealth of capital and contacts, all of which Parker can help attain in plenty. Experts estimate that a successful campaign could easily cost up to $20 million and would need a united activism base, especially after California voters rejected the last attempt to legalize the drug in 2010.

"This is good news that people are rallying behind Sean. His group is playing a game of catch-up, but they're working hard at getting it right and avoiding a repeat of the last time," a source close to Parker said to BuzzFeed News.

Marijuana advocates have welcomed California's decision to pass new medical marijuana bills.
Marijuana advocates point out that the regulation of marijuana will lead to more jobs in the U.S., and better quality-control. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom also expressed his delight after the new laws were passed, saying that getting California's free-wheeling medical marijuana industry under control is the first step in the transition to a system that also addresses recreational use. Newsom, who is a candidate for governor in 2018, has long been advocating the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

"Given the history and complexity of California's market, achieving the people's will and responsibly regulating marijuana will be a process that unfolds over many years, requiring sustained attention to implementation."
Nate Bradley, the executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, echoed Newsom's views, saying the credit to regulate medical marijuana goes to a whole bunch of financial backers, who have been keen to sort out their differences in their attempts to make marijuana legal.
"The ones who have the financing are doing a good job working together to get past their differences. There are lots of strong personalities in the discussion. Nobody has officially has done their own thing."
Several medical marijuana dispensaries sued the city of Los Angeles after the government closed down more than 400 marijuana stores in its bid to regulated the drug.
A medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council Executive Director Jim Araby, whose union lobbied for employment standards, said regulating medical marijuana will go down as one of the most historic moments in the history of the California state.

"Today, the Wild West era of medical cannabis came to an end, and a new era of responsible regulation has begun."
Oakland Assemblyman Rob Bonta said Friday ushered a new chapter for the people of California.
"Today ushers in a new era for California. Patients will have assurances that their products are safe. Law enforcement will have a foundation for identifying drugged drivers and increased funding to protect the public. The environment will be protected from neglect, destruction, and water diversion."
However, while the new laws have been cause for much celebration among marijuana advocates and enthusiasts alike, there have been reports about disagreements with the bills, which will take until 2018 to be fully enforced. The American Medical Marijuana Association, an advocacy group for medical marijuana patients, plans to sue to overturn the legislation, according to MSNBC. The group says that several parts of the bill illegally amends the 1996 voter initiative that legalized it.

Medical marijuana gets historic regulation nod in California, recreational legalization can happen as early as next year.
Marijuana advocates argue that not regulating the drug is not helpful to any of the parties involved. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

What do you think of California's decision to regulate medical marijuana in the state? Do you think marijuana should be legalized for recreation in the state next year?

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]