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The State of Law: One Year After CA Legalization

You might think that only those folks in the cannabis industry—budtenders, cannasseurs and the like—would be interested in California cannabis news.

But you’d be wrong. We’re constantly surprised—and honestly, kind of thrilled!—by the excitement and energy the subject of cannabis law generates. If the stereotype about cannabis users used to be that they were disinterested, uninvolved, or just plain couldn’t be bothered with current events, we’re happy to report that the truth is anything but.

California cannabis news

So with that in mind, let’s check in on the state of cannabis news in California one year into full legalization. And prepare yourself: It’s been one wild ride thus far!

2019 California Cannabis News

As we reported earlier this year, the state released new legal guidelines. There were no major surprises, though many consumers were disappointed to learn that the state’s stiff taxes—which account for as much as 40% of the final price of cannabis—aren’t going down anytime soon.

But we’re hoping the latest round of news should help drive prices down. In February, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration released its final revenue figures for 2018. The most populous state in the nation—and without much argument the largest and most significant market for legal cannabis—generated roughly $345 million in the first year of legalization.

Make no bones about it: That’s significant. But as recently as January 2018, then-Governor Jerry Brown had predicted a haul of $643 million, on the way to what some analysts hoped could soon reach $1 billion. What gives?

For one, there are those taxes we mentioned earlier (in addition to the state, local cities and counties often levy their own fees). In a state as large and porous as is California, some consumers simply shrugged their shoulders and turned to the black market.

For another thing, many communities that didn’t want to be associated with legal cannabis sales took the initiative to ban them in their jurisdictions. Some sources estimate as many as 75% of cities and counties did so. A harsh toke, as they say, but one not entirely unexpected in the early stages of full legalization. Expect to see that number drop as communities begin to see the value of those taxes (and admit that legalization hasn’t unleashed a flood of dead-eyed canna-zombies ravaging their streets).

California cannabis news capital

The Future of California Cannabis Law

The disappointing start aside, those tax revenue numbers should go up. Conversely, that may mean the retail of price of weed decreases as the legislature ramps down the steep levies it currently imposes.

But for that to happen, more lawmakers need to get on board. Rep. Rob Bonta, who represents the 18th Assembly District (which includes the Central East Bay) has introduced a bill to temporarily pause the cultivation tax and lower the excise tax. But his bill needs a super-majority to become law, and many lawmakers are angling to raise taxes right now, not lower them.

In short, it’s just another topsy-turvy month in California cannabis news! Keep your eyes glued to this space for regular updates, dispatches and more.

And when you feel the need to unwind, don’t forget to stop by our Oakland dispensary for some of the best cannabis products on the market!

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Final Rules Released: The New California Cannabis Laws

California Cannabis Laws

If like us, you regularly refresh your news feed to catch up on the latest cannabis news, this has been a very active year already. On January 16th, the state released its final (probably not actually final) iteration of California cannabis laws. There’s a lot to chew on—yes, that an edibles reference—for consumers, dispensaries, and manufacturers. So without dawdling further, let’s dive into what the new California cannabis laws actually mean.

No (Tax) Relief for Consumers…

One longstanding complaint about the legal cannabis market is that high state and local taxes add as much as 40% to the sales price of legal cannabis. The new California cannabis laws don’t address this—only the state legislature can levy taxes.

That said, the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature is expected to take up the issue this year, which could foreshadow those taxes decreasing. Already, some municipalities—including our own beloved Oakland—are competing to attract cannabis entrepreneurs.

…But Some for Dispensary and Cannabussiness Owners

California Cannabis Laws dispensary open sign

Dispensaries aren’t any likelier than consumers to get tax breaks this year, but after a topsy-turvy 2018, the stability promised by the new California cannabis laws should drive more dispensary and cannabusiness openings and launches. Behind the scenes, the forecast of greater certainty in the industry will lead to greater investment, which in turn will mean more innovative products and choices for you.

One Way or Anther, Plastic Packaging Is Here to Stay

One of the most obvious points of friction in this industry has nothing to do with taxes and everything to do with packaging. As you’re no doubt well aware, state law currently mandates that all cannabis products must be placed into a child-resistant “exit bag” before it leaves the dispensary.

As you’re also no doubt aware, these bags tend to accumulate like tumbleweeds around dispensaries’ front doors. It’s a classic case of caution causing calamitous consequences.

But starting next year, all wholesale cannabis products will arrive at dispensaries already wrapped in child-resistant packaging. Of course, that won’t eliminate the issue of tons of potentially ocean-clogging plastic bags, but ideally, it will at least reduce the number of such containers. If you want to be a tad more eco-conscious on the issue, remember to bring the exit bag from your last purchase back to the dispensary when you visit again.

Keep It Secret; Keep It Safe

California Cannabis Laws cannabis in shopping cart

No, we’re not talking about your stash (though that’s a good rule of thumb here, too). No, we’re talking about the new California cannabis laws’ provisions for better data privacy. Now, dispensaries won’t be required to record your name for every purchase (though they may still elect to do so). Of course, dispensary employees will still ensure that you’re of legal age (unchanged at 21 and over) and enforce maximum purchase-per-day limits (also unchanged at one ounce per customer). Plus, if you take part in a dispensary loyalty program, you’ll need to provide some identifying information to receive your points.

Door to Door

Finally, it appears that cannabis delivery is here to stay. Now all Californians of legal age can access cannabis through delivery services, even in localities that don’t currently permit brick-and-mortar dispensaries to operate. This will help make cannabis more accessible, especially to patients.

Wrapping Up

Earlier, we suggested that these “final” rules may not be quite so final. That’s because rulings such as these frequently come under legal challenge from various parties, or are modified by the California Office of Administrative Law, the entity that drafts these statutes in the first place. Be sure to check in with us to learn more!

At ECO Cannabis, we enjoy learning about all things cannabis—from how it can be incorporated into your wellness routine to current regulations. And we love to share that information! Stop by our Oakland Dispensary and we’d be happy to discuss it with you.