Creating a safe and legal cannabis market that keeps cannabis out of the hands of criminals begins with developing smart and effective regulations for cannabis production. Washington regulators face a difficult balancing act. They need to ensure that enough cannabis is produced to meet market demand while also protecting against excess production being diverted to the black market.
Any legislative or regulatory scheme governing production must take into account the actual experience of growers. Product safety and purity is of primary importance, but an overbroad, unfocused regulatory effort will be counter-productive. There must be room for experimentation and change in the industry, and regulations should not force growers to use particular means or methods. By allowing the industry to grow organically in its infancy, Washington will ensure that the regulations it does enact are long-lasting and impactful.
Regulators must also address the cost of compliance. Excessively high regulatory costs will make it even more difficult for legal cannabis markets to compete with the unregulated, untaxed black market. Initiative 502 already taxes every transaction in the supply chain at 25%, making price competition with the black market a very real concern.
For producing, CBG advocates for a number of regulatory and legislative policies to achieve these goals, including:
- Granting licenses to qualified growers that are capable of delivering a predictable volume of useable cannabis;
- Keeping drying, curing, and trimming responsibilities in the hands of producers at producers’ discretion;
- Enacting sufficient minimum phytosanitary and purity standards so that professional, safe producers are not forced to compete with low-end, unsafe product;
- Clarifying standards and quantities that must be tested in laboratories to properly balance safety concerns and cost concerns;
- Regulating product safety ends rather than growing means, and allowing for different methods of growing (hydroponics, different light systems, etc.) to flourish; and
- Minimizing barriers to investment, allowing producers to obtain the capital they need to produce cannabis at scale while maintaining the highest standards of safety and cleanliness.