It’s important to note that there are no laws permitting purchase of cannabis for adult (recreational) use in California yet. However, a bill to legalize marijuana recreationally in California is expected to pass a legislative vote and be implemented in 2016.
Throughout the country, some of the most common policy questions regarding medical marijuana include how to regulate its recommendation, dispensing, and registration of approved patients. Some states and localities without dispensary regulation are reportedly experiencing a boom in new businesses in hopes of being approved before presumably stricter regulations are made.
Since marijuana is a Schedule I substance, federal law prohibits its prescription. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, medical marijuana “prescriptions” are more often called “recommendations” or “referrals” because of the federal prescription prohibition.
With regard to edibles for medical use, it is widely regarded that the appropriate dose and consumption schedule for each user varies and depends on many factors, including height, weight, tolerance, previous usage, current state of well-being, and health issues. It is reported that marijuana infused edibles can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to take effect.
“We’ve heard from many patients that the effects from edibles can last up to eight hours or longer,” Carella says.
States with medical marijuana laws generally have some form of patient registry, which may provide some protection against arrest for possession up to a certain amount of marijuana for personal medicinal use.
Only four states, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for adult use (and also medical use). Along with California, adult use advocates are now reportedly targeting additional states, such as Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, for ballot measures in 2016.
There were 1.5 million purchasers of legal cannabis in the U.S. in 2014, according to the “State of Legal Marijuana Markets 3rd Edition Executive Summary,” published in 2015 by the ArcView Group, a San Francisco-based investor network focused on the cannabis industry.
Individual state requirements for cannabis traceability, quality assurance, and laboratory testing and monitoring requirements are definitely on the rise in legal cannabis states, says Patrick Vo, MS, MAcc, CEO of BioTrackTHC, a software company that serves the cannabis industry, both government agencies and the private sector. With offices in Denver, Colo. and Olympia, Wash., BioTrackTHC is a division of Bio-Tech Medical Software Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“Regulations, especially those addressing traceability, are crucial for advancing the cannabis industry, performing recalls, and improving product quality and safety,” Vo emphasizes. “As more states adopt a centralized traceability system, food safety will improve for edibles.”
According to Vo, the BioTrackTHC Enterprise System provides inventory and sales management capabilities, and is capable of submitting real-time data to state traceability systems, such as in Washington. BioTrackTHC’s system provides regulatory agencies with real-time inventory movements and compliance data. This comprehensive model links growers, processors, and retail dispensaries together to ensure that the entire supply chain is monitored from seed to sale.
Vo says BioTrackTHC’s Enterprise Systems are used in more than 1,300 locations in the 23 U.S. states that have legalized cannabis in some form, along with Washington, D.C., Jamaica, parts of Canada, and some Latin American countries.
Moreover, BioTrackTHC was selected by four of the last five state regulatory agencies to implement a seed-to-sale traceability system, namely Illinois, New York, New Mexico, and Washington. To date, six states have regulations for traceability. (Colorado and Oregon use different systems.)
“In Washington, BioTrackTHC is the state-mandated reporting system used by any business that touches the plant in compliance with Washington Initiative 502 (I-502) regulations,” Vo notes.
Passing in an Evergreen State election on Nov. 6, 2012 with 55.7 percent of the vote, I-502 mandated that rules for producers, processors, and retailers be in place by Dec. 1, 2013.