California’s adult-use cannabis retail system is set to go live, now that we’re in the new year, meaning that anyone over the age of 21 will soon walk into legal dispensaries. Cannabis enthusiasts in San Diego should be particularly excited, since we are living in one of the few cities in the county that will actually have permitted stores as early as this month.
Some of the impending policy changes may come as a bit of a surprise if you haven’t been keeping up with all of the regulatory updates. Though things will be a little different from what you are used to, remember this—these new rules are meant to hold the industry responsible and accountable, while keeping kids, neighborhoods and consumers safe and healthy.
The emergency draft regulations released late November by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control is an exhausting 278-page document. There are a few highlights that all cannabis consumers should be aware of:
Legal Stores? Only in the City Limits
At the start of this month, hundreds of potential buyers likely were very confused when trying to purchase cannabis anywhere outside the formal city limits of San Diego. Why? Because it’s the only city thus far in San Diego County that has actively permitted cannabis retailers.
Within San Diego proper, there will only be 17 licensed retailers from which adults can purchase legal cannabis. In areas such as Carlsbad, Oceanside, East County and Chula Vista, “recreational” cannabis is still a far-off dream. So, if you live in these areas, be prepared to drive a little farther and wait in line.
Taxes Will Be High
For cannabis consumers on a budget, there will definitely be some serious sticker shock when shopping at the newly permitted stores. This is due to the new cannabis tax structure, which will hopefully bolster the local and state economy in a big way.
To sum up the costs, add together all these taxes. California is imposing a 15 percent excise tax on all cannabis goods sold statewide. On top of that, voters in San Diego passed a law last November that will add a five percent gross receipts tax, increasing each year, on all product retailed in the city. Tack on California’s 7.5 percent sales tax, and consumers are looking at a painful price increase of around 28 to 40 percent when compared to street or medical collective costs.
Edibles Will Look (and Feel) Different
Newbies might feel nervous about trying an edible for the first time, as they can be much more potent and unpredictable than smoked or vaporized cannabis.
While some consumers are worried that they won’t be able to get the high-dose products they need to quell their symptoms, unfortunately, the state has decided that adult-use consumers simply don’t need that much THC. California will limit the potency of recreational edible products to 10 clearly marked doses of 10mg each and no more than 100mg of THC per package. However, according to the emergency rules, medicinal products may exceed the 100mg limit.
Pervasive Advertising? Think Again
You might assume that the dawn of legal cannabis inevitably means that there will be cannabis ads popping up all over town. On the contrary, the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s regulations state that cannabis advertising will be limited to outlets where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is “reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older.” That pretty much eliminates all outdoor, radio or television advertising that one might consider obvious. Additionally, all advertisements will be required to list the licensee number.
And as hard as it may be to believe, these are not final regulations. Sometime this year, the state licensing agencies will put forth final regulations and open up a 45-day public comment period. The industry as a whole has a lot to learn over the next year in regards to operating in a strictly regulated space. Be ready for a new age for California consumer cannabis!