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Cannabis regulators may loosen California rules to help struggling industry

The state Cannabis Advisory Committee on Wednesday recommended loosening rules on marijuana businesses, including delivery firms. Above, Ñ Cheryl Luell at the Healing Center, a marijuana dispensary in Needles, Calif.   (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

With California’s licensed pot shops still struggling to compete with the illicit market and facing the new challenges of COVID-19, a state panel that advises regulators on cannabis sales recommended Wednesday that several restrictions be relaxed to give legal businesses a better shot.

The state Cannabis Advisory Committee recommended changes that included lifting the $5,000 limit on the amount of pot that can be carried by delivery vans, making it easier for small businesses to sell different products and eventually allowing food and beverages to be served in cannabis lounges. The panel included the proposals in its annual report, which it approved Wednesday.

“The state has faced unprecedented circumstances in 2020: the global COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession, a record breaking wildfire season, and the nationwide fight for racial justice and equality,” the 17-member panel said in the report.

California voters approved state licensing of growing, distributing and selling cannabis in 2016 when they approved Proposition 64, but the legal market has not lived up to expectations.

State officials originally predicted the initiative would result in 6,000 retail stores selling marijuana for recreational and medical use under state license in California, but currently there are just 715 pot shops and 314 state-approved delivery firms.

The industry has said it has not grown as expected because of high taxes, strict regulations and the fact that 80% of California’s cities do not permit the retail sale of cannabis for recreational use.

When the state issued a stay-at-home order in March to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it deemed cannabis an “essential” industry, which has allowed marijuana shops to stay open but with social distancing requirements that have forced many to move largely to curbside pickup.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Patrick McGreevy on Los Angeles Times

Published: December 09, 2020

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