SALINAS, Calif. - The largest legal marijuana marketplace in the U.S. is taking shape - at least on paper.
California regulators Thursday released long-awaited rules that will govern the state's emerging pot economy, from fields to sales.
The emergency plan to rein in the often unchecked cannabis market is the state's first attempt since voters passed Proposition 64 to legalize adult recreational use. Gavin Kogan is a cannabis attorney in Salinas.
"Ultimately for California, which is the largest state in the union particularly with respect to cannabis that we have to invite black market operators into a regulated environment," Kogan said. "They are very well thought out, but it is a daunting task to regulate an entire industry from seed to sell."
It seems like the state has a lot of clarification to do in the months and years to come.
For example, how to enforce child proof packaging?
"How do you do that with a beverage? How do you do that with vaporizing cartridges? Unlike wine, cannabis has about six maybe ten different ways it can be ingested,” Kogan said.
Couchlock, a cannabis distribution company is already preparing for that transition, stocking up on containers like this.
Compliance officer Samuel Loforti said packaging isn't as much of an issue as labeling. The state mandates “a” for adult and “m” for medical use.
"They are the exact same product but that designation has to happen before it ever gets to the retailer. So the retailers may in turn have a lot of one, either adult use or medical use on the shelves they are not selling," Loforti said.
The emergency rules that open way for growers and sellers to get licensed come just 45 days before legal sales kick off. Many problems remain.
Some predict high taxes will drive consumers to the black market.
Most banks won't do business with cannabis companies, and Los Angeles and San Francisco are among many cities without local rules in place.
Loforti gave the state an “A” for effort, but he said it's not getting a 10 out of 10 yet.
"Overall, I give it a lower grade just because the state requirements don't really match the free flow of goods that will occur now that there is recreational cannabis products out there," Loforti said.
Monterey County officials are getting to work, too, since there's no regulation in place for commercial adult cannabis use.
The Board of Supervisors will meet on Dec. 5 to go over the state law and how to adapt it locally.