California has it's first weed czar - otherwise known as the chief of its "Bureau of Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulations". Just naming the new bureau has been something of a challenge. Originally named the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation had to quickly change to the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation because of sensitivity to the term "marijuana". Governor Jerry Brown appointed Lori Ajax to head up this challenge in early 2016 and she has risen to that challenge!
Not often does anyone get the opportunity to create a new state agency and this isn't just any industry. Cannabis is a complex industry to say the least! In addition to that, while creating the agency and undertaking the daunting task of writing all the regulations, Prop. 64 passed, legalizing adult use of cannabis thus doubling Lori's workload.
The bureau did a notable job getting out to the community for public comment and outreach. After the conclusion of the comment period, the bureau looked poised to drop final regs on the industry in preparation for the licensing procedure to move forward. Then Gov. Brown's trailer bill changed all that.
The new rules proposed by the administration include eliminating both state-issued medical-marijuana identification cards and the requirement that pot goes through a third-party distributor, and the rules use a Proposition 64 licensing structure for both recreational and medicinal cannabis. So back to the drawing board for Lori & Co. and an "emergency rulemaking process" without the benefit of the normal public hearing phase.
The new emergency regulations are expected to be published this fall and we hope they coincide with our conference.
Meet and hear from Lori Ajax at The State of Cannabis:
Lori Ajax is the Chief of the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulations. She was previously Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) where she had served in multiple positions since 1998, including Deputy Division Chief, District Administrator and Supervising Investigator.
Susan Soares has written for Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, and Sensi Magazine.