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California Rules May Make Weed Shippers Report Themselves To The Feds

An apparent oversight in California’s cannabis regulations requires some distributors report to the federal government exactly what they’re up to.
IMAGINE DRIVING THROUGH California, your vehicle packed with Mendocino County’s finest kush. That scenario might once have induced a panic attack or—depending on your temperament—an adrenaline spike. Now that medical and adult-use recreational cannabis is legal, it’s a legit way to make a paycheck, and hitting the road with a trunk full of the devil’s lettuce is mostly cool.

Cool, but complicated.

It’s not just that the federal government still considers transporting cannabis very much a crime. It’s not even that California has never finalized rules for moving the leafy greens, even two decades after legalizing medical toking. (Insert joke about the duration of an average Phish song here.) It was only in January, a year after Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana, that the state issued temporary regs.

These laid the groundwork for a digital track-and-trace system, which will be outlined in full once the state’s weed agency, the Bureau of Cannabis Control, releases the final regulations in the next month or so. A crucial part of the system will be licensing every vehicle used to traffictransport weed across the state.

This has the weed transport industry equal parts excited and anxious. On one hand, legitimate cannabis capitalists using armored vehicles will no longer have to compete with that shady dude who swears his Honda CRX can outrun any jackers. On the other hand, California’s pre-existing laws require many commercial vehicles operating within the state register with the federal Department of Transportation—by telling them exactly how the vehicle will be used.

When California first decriminalized marijuana with the 1996 Compassionate Use Act, it simply “encouraged the federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.” Over two decades, the state built up structure and oversight for the medical cannabis system—except the whole to-and-from thing. “It was really the wild west in terms of transportation because there were zero regulations,” says Alison Malsbury, a cannabis industry lawyer with Harris Bricken in San Francisco.

The sun began to set on California’s cannabis transport free-for-all in November 2016, when voters passed Proposition 64, allowing state-licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis and cannabis-infused products to adults age 21 and up. (It also allows grown ups to grow their own crops, give small amounts of weed as gifts, and carry up to an ounce without worrying about tripping up the law.)

The law also came with a requirement that vehicles used to transport cannabis must be owned, or leased, by someone with a permit issued by the Bureau of Cannabis Control. For now, those permits are temporary, dictated by an emergency set of rules the agency set out in January. This permitting system is integral to digital track-and-trace, the centerpiece of California’s cannabis regulation that demands every bit grown and sold in the state is accounted for, from seed to smoke.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Nick Stockton on Wired

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Published: May 13, 2018

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