In 1996, the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) was enacted for the purpose of 'ensur[ing] that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes' upon a physician's recommendation. The CUA decriminalized the cultivation and possession of marijuana, but only for a patient or the patient's primary caregiver where the marijuana is possessed or cultivated for the medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation of a physician.
In 2015, the Legislature approved and the Governor signed into law three bills (Assembly Bill 243, Assembly Bill 266, and Senate Bill 643) thereby creating the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), the licensing and regulatory framework for medical marijuana in the State of California. Assembly Bill 243 required the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the State Department of Public Health, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the State Water Resources Control Board to promulgate regulations or standards relating to medical marijuana and its cultivation. The bill also requires various state agencies to take specified action to mitigate the impact that marijuana cultivation has on the environment. Cities, counties, and their local law enforcement agencies were directed by the bill to work with state agencies to enforce laws addressing the environmental impacts of regulating medical marijuana and to establish a state-mandated local program.
Proposition 64 was approved by California voters on November 8, 2016. It legalizes the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana in California by adults 21 years and older, for recreational purposes. Up to 28.5 grams (i.e. one ounce) of dry marijuana and eight grams of concentrated marijuana may be legally possessed. Under Proposition 64, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation will be converted into the State Marijuana Control Board, thereby becoming the state licensing authority for both recreational and medical marijuana commercial enterprise.
From a local perspective, UPAs and fire prevention offices throughout the State are reviewing how their programs will interlace with an array of local and State requirements on growers, labs, extraction processing and retail sales. Several jurisdictions have attended seminars in Denver and Sacramento that have recently highlighted the industry and all its ancillary concerns.
UPAs will continue to review its impact on local programs. It is anticipated that from a hazardous materials perspective, most of the concern will be on fire prevention and environmental health activities. The CFB will appoint an Issue Coordinator when and if appropriate.