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The Impact of California's Cannabis Laws on Your Dispensary

california cannabis laws and dispensary operations

With the advent of the new emergency regulations regarding cannabis sales in California, dispensaries are scrambling to comply so that come January they can begin selling to the adult recreational usage market.

Today we’re going to take a look at four specific categories of regulations in the new laws, and examine how they impact your cannabis dispensary operations. 

Cannabis Retail Potency/Product Limits

One of the new regulations that is receiving some pushback is the limits on product potency they establish, particularly in terms of edibles.  No more than 100mg total of THC is allowed to be present within a single product, and individual serving sizes should deliver no more than 10mg at a time.

The emergency regulations unfortunately do not make a distinction in terms of potency of edibles between medical and recreational cannabis users; most states allow significantly higher concentrations of THC in products for the medical market.  

Non-edible cannabis preparations such as tinctures or topically applied products do see higher potency limits for medical products (2,000mg per package for medical use versus 1,000mg for recreational.). Finally, cannabis products are fully barred from containing nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol (except tinctures), they cannot be sold as perishable products other than beverages, and cannabis goods cannot contain seafood or dairy.

Operational Restrictions 

Purchasing and operational restrictions are also part of the new set of California cannabis dispensary laws. Individual customers are prohibited from purchasing:

  • more than 28.5g of traditional, flowered cannabis bud,
  • more than 8 grams of concentrates
  • more than six cannabis seedlings at any one time
If a patient has a valid medical recommendation they can make purchases in excess of these limits. For more information, check out our article on how to ensure your cannabis retail customers don’t exceed transaction limits.

The hours of operation are also tightly regulated and are the second main source of pushback against the temporary policies devised by the state – dispensaries will only be allowed to operate between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Lastly, the location of a dispensary must be at least 600 feet from any K-12 educational institution, youth center, day care, or other area primarily frequented by children.

Distribution of Cannabis 

Delivery of product is approved under the new California cannabis laws, but only by an officially licensed employee tied to an officially licensed dispensary. Additionally, all cannabis deliveries must be made within fully enclosed automobiles, so unfortunately no unmanned drone deliveries for now.

The structures on distribution also extend to promotional activities and giveaways; they are completely prohibited throughout the entire recreational usage market, as part of the effort to discourage the interest of children in the product.

Giveaways and promotions are however permitted within the sphere of medical usage – California state regulators want to ensure that low-income medical patients, veterans, and other special cases are not barred from the benefits of free or low-cost treatment.

Safety Procedures & Product Testing

The final element of the new California dispensary laws we will examine are the regulations on safety and product testing, which will be phased in over the next year.

Initially, only major contaminants that pose a high public health risk will be screened for, along with product potency. The testing process will be expanded so that even minor contaminants are also screened for by the end of 2018.

In addition to being completely free of contaminants, products will also need to have their cannabis content clearly labeled, and in terms of edibles or concentrates the products must pass testing which indicates that the THC content is spread uniformly across the total servings inside the packaging.

In Conclusion 

While some of the new changes to California dispensary laws are receiving some pushback from the cannabis business community (primarily the restrictions on edible potency and potential hours of operation), most stakeholders are viewing the changes as a positive step forward, and 2018 is definitely shaping up to be an exciting year in the world of California cannabis.

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