The head of the agency tasked with drafting recreational pot regulations told lawmakers this week they will "phase in" business licensing starting January 1 2018. Prop 64 legalized recreational pot use for adults and set a deadline for state agencies to establish rules for growing, manufacturing and selling marijuana.
Lori Ajax is head of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. She encountered skepticism from state Senators about whether the bureau would be ready to start licensing marijuana businesses by January 1 2018.
Ajax acknowledged the complexity of the job and said 2018 would be "a year of transition." So while the state will start issuing licenses come January 1, that will mark the beginning of a gradual process.
Ajax noted some medical cannabis products being manufactured now may not meet the new guidelines on January 1.
So her agency is considering options for how to help the industry make that transition.
"Maybe have provisional licenses, maybe some sorts of grace periods for certain things to just transition folks into the industry - into the regulated market," says Ajax.
So if a licensed pot dispensary has product on its shelves that's not part of the state's track and trace program, they could get a temporary license to sell it.
Under Prop 64 multiple agencies are involved in creating frameworks for how pot will be grown, regulated and sold. The state Department of Agriculture will oversee how cannabis is grown. While the Department of Health will license and regulate marijuana edibles.
On top of that, existing pot dispensaries will need to comply with city and or county law in addition to those laid out by the state.