As the new year rolled around, greener things were being rolled up, and recreational marijuana dispensary lines were longer than ever. Many Californians have anticipated the beginning of 2018 when marijuana would become legal for adults 21 and older. While it is tempting to explore the social implications of recreational marijuana, it is worthwhile to first delve into the very new- and very extensive- regulations which the state government scrambled to produce for the better half of last year.
On one hand, the laws governing personal use are quite simple. On the other hand, it is uncertain how the 200-plus pages of state regulations will affect cannabis-testing laboratories and local growers. Many people are grumbling about the over regulation of the market. It seems that marijuana is a far cry from the liberation we all expected.
Among these regulations are specifications on intensive testing procedures which require state of the art technology and experienced chemists. The labs that currently exist are not on par with the new standard; they are in dire need of new equipment and staff to handle the massive loads of incoming cannabis that requires testing before it can be released to dispensaries. Coincidentally, these labs are ineligible to receive any kind of federal funding, as marijuana use is still illegal under federal law. Short-staffed and under-equipped, the labs are in quite a pickle. On top of that, the market is lacking specialized chemists to quickly fill the gap.
Local growers have also come under fire as a result of these strict regulations. Cannabis must undergo a higher level of testing for contaminants, impurities, heavy metal, and pesticides (to name a few) before they are allowed on the market. If growers unknowingly buy soil that contains pesticides, this sort of regulation could bankrupt them. Drift from nearby conventional farms also has the potential to corrupt their livelihood.
The well-intent of the government is duly noted; however, these costly precautions and the hasty time frame in which they are being implemented has raised concern. People are wondering if the end justifies the means. Without much of a choice, chemists, growers, and dispensaries alike have set out to refine the marijuana industry to legal standards. The impact of recreational marijuana has been speculated, but as with many things, time will tell all.