California would set standards for organic marijuana, allow pot samples at county fairs and permit home deliveries under legislation set to be considered by lawmakers as the state prepares for next year’s start of legal marijuana sales. Lawmakers are working to merge California’s new voter-approved recreational pot law with the state’s longstanding medical marijuana program. They have settled on an array of regulations to protect consumers and public safety while ensuring taxes are collected.
By 2018, state officials must have crafted regulations and rules governing the emerging legal marijuana market with an estimated annual sales value of $7 billion – ranging from where and how plants can be grown to setting guidelines to track the buds from fields to stores. California will ultimately treat cannabis like alcohol, allowing people 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow six marijuana plants at home.
The budget agreement includes $118 million to pay for startup costs for the newly regulated industry. The state will open a tax office in San Francisco so marijuana businesses can pay their taxes in cash without having to drive long distances with thousands of dollars. Growers would be allowed to form agricultural cooperatives without going against antitrust laws. Businesses would also be able to legally grow, distribute and sell their own product.