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California's Pot Czar Discusses Marijuana Regulations

Medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Feb. 1, 2011.
Associated Press
Medical marijuana clone plants are shown at a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Feb. 1, 2011.
California's Pot Czar Discusses Marijuana Regulations
California's Pot Czar Discusses Marijuana Regulations GUEST: Lori Ajax, chief, California Bureau of Marijuana Control

Last we, officials tasked with regulating the legal marijuana industry, they met with growers and potential distributors at a summit. The new marijuana regulations Bureau is said to come up with a plan for licensing cannabis farmers and manufacturers, testing labs, distributors and retailers. They want to get rules in place by the beginning next year. They want to figure out very thorny issues involving banking, credit, and the uncertainty of the trump administrations attitude toward the new legal cannabis law. We have Lori Ajax, chief of the California Bureau of marijuana control. It is the cannabis's are. Welcome to the program. Thinker have me. The Bureau changes into the Bureau of marijuana control? Yes. It has changed with the passage of proposition 64. One of the aspects of the industry that your Bureau regulate? Like medical, we are responsible for licensing the distributors, dispensaries, the transporters, and the testing laboratories. Prop 64 adds a licensed type which is the micro business. There is the testing labs under the California Department of public health. Were hoping we can work it out so I am confident that the testing labs will fall under the Bureau under proposition 64. The new regulations that you were trying to come up with comedy team to please me nearer those recently introduced for the sale of medical marijuana? Is that right? What we worked on before 64 past, it was the medical cannabis regulations. A lot of it we developed through the regulations and they apply with proposition 64. We still have basic priorities of public safety, patient safety, and environmental safety. A lot of what we have done is going to help us with developing the regulations for proposition 64. Will medical and record is recreational be two separate entities mistake? A view of looked at the governor's budget, we are on a road to making them one motto. That will be more efficient and cost effective. It is a matter of how -- there as a lot of similarities between medical and recreational. It is figuring out the differences and how we can align the two. Can shop sell recreational cannabis? Not at this time, not until they have a licensed. We are scheduled dose we are mandated to issue licenses starting January 1, 2018. Is a process on track? We have a good strategy in place. We are working on that. We are taking in the different things that could happen along the way. We are confident that we can get there. The command likely to become the new Atty. General, Jeff Sessions, has a reputation as a antidrug prosecutor. He said good people do not smoke marijuana. Here is his commentary his confirmation hearings but. One obvious concern is that the Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state a distribution of it an illegal act. That is something that is not delight -- desired any longer, Congress should change the rule. It is not so much the attorney journals job to decide what walls ought to be enforced. We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able. What challenges are you a Team from the potential attorney general sessions in the trump administration? Back it is too soon to tell what the impact will be with the new administration. We are focused on developing our licensing and enforcement framework for both medical and recreational. We will keep doing that. We are trying to go forward with the mission on what we are trying to achieve in California. Of course, we will monitor that throughout the year. Are you preparing for legal challenges to California's and recreational and medical statutes? I think where the Bureau is, we have enough challenges right now that we're focused on what proposition 64 and a medical cannabis regulation act requires us to do. We will keep charging forward. What about the banking issue? Because it is illegal, banks and credit card companies will not do business with dispensaries. What can the Bureau do about that? Those are clear challenges with the industry still being heavily cash based business. Of course, were concerned about public safety throughout the state. We think that the more transparent business can be, the easier it is to regulate them. We are working with the state treasurer who was tell about it work the group that the Bureau is a part of. We are working together with other state agencies to see if we can come up with solutions. Under proposition 64, cities and jurisdictions can decide not to allow marijuana businesses in their communities. Would you urge them to dilute delay the decision until we learn that the landscape looks like? Yes. There is local control under both systems. I think our job at the Bureau is to continue to communicate with the local government on what we're doing, what the regulations will look like and continue to have them be a part of the process. I think it is important that they know what we're doing. I think some of them are waiting to see what the state regulations are going to look like expect during the summit last week that I mentioned, your quoted as saying that achieving the January 2018 deadline for licensing, and may not be pretty but you will get there. What to do mean by that? There is a lot of unknowns. There is probably going to be legislative changes. I think for the Bureau, we are trying to prepare or anything and trying to adjust timelines as appropriate. You know, with having to stand up with an IT system and get the regulations finalized by the end of 2017, it is going to be a very aggressive challenge for us. Were hoping to get there. We want to get there. We want a quality product at the end. Hopefully, it's one of those things that I think we are going to have to roll with how things go over the next year. We are confident. I have a great team. My colleagues at the Department of public health and food in act, were committed and dedicated to get things right. I've been speaking with a six, the chief of marijuana control and thank you. Thank you. Plans to make a section more bicycle friendly falls flat with cyclist. It is 12:20 and you are listening to KPBS Midday Edition .

California's first-ever cannabis czar has nearly a year to come up with a plan to regulate the marijuana industry in the state.

Lori Ajax is the chief of California's Bureau of Marijuana Control, formerly the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. The agency is charged with licensing cannabis farmers, product manufacturers, testing labs, distributors and retailers. Those regulations need to be in place by Jan. 1, 2018.

The state will also have to figure out some very thorny issues involving banking, credit and the uncertainty of the Trump administration's attitude to California's new legal cannabis law.

Monday on Midday Edition, Ajax discusses how the bureau is developing the licensing and regulatory framework for medical and non-medical marijuana.