BCC and me

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

Hello. I have noticed that since January 1, dispensaries have: More people, longer lines, higher prices, product changes, caps on edibles, more wasted time, more inconvenience. Question: Will this get better or only worse in the future?

—J Stacks

Hello. Any new program takes time to get going. And while I feel that the state Bureau of Cannabis Control has definitely erred on the side of over-regulation, I am optimistic that there will be positive changes.

First up: More people and longer lines. Well, what did you expect? There is a huge demand for cannabis. The approval process has been slow, so the clubs that are already licensed for recreational cannabis are gonna see way more visitors. Not much you can do about that except maybe call a delivery service or try to be first in line at the club before they open. And you should feel lucky. At least you have a dispensary in your town. Many jurisdictions have no cannabis facilities, and plenty of counties have outright bans on cannabis businesses, including delivery services. To counteract this, lawmakers have introduced Senate Bill 1302, which would allow licensed delivery services to deliver statewide, even if they are making deliveries to cities of counties with bans in place. This is a good idea.

Higher prices: It’s mostly the taxes and the new distribution system that places a middleman between the grower and the buyer. I don’t think the new distribution system is necessary, but it’s probably here to stay. Don’t ask me why. However, Assembly members Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) have just introduced a new bill (Assembly Bill 3157) that would lower the excise tax on cannabis from 15 percent to 11 percent, and suspend the cultivation tax for the next three years. I feel like these changes should be permanent, but it is a good start. Talk to your elected officials and tell them to support AB 3157. No one wants to pay up to $25 for a gram of weed, especially when your friendly neighborhood weed dealer can hook you up for $10 or less.

One other problem contributing to higher prices is that smaller growers can’t even get into the game. State and city fees are steep, creating a barrier to entry that is forcing many folks that would like to go legit to stay in the black market. I would like to see the state lower its fees, allowing even more small business owners to have a chance.

As to the caps on edibles: Suck it up. Yes, we know that eating brownie with 500 milligrams of THC won’t kill you, but it will make the average person uncomfortably high. You can always make your own, or just buy a bunch of smaller doses.

The BCC seems to be trying to get it right. You should contact them and maybe attend a meeting or two (www.bcc.ca.gov/about_us/committee_meetings.html). If things haven’t gotten markedly better by next year, we can plan a revolution. Just kidding.