New rules incoming

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

Hey, I hear the Bureau of Cannabis Control is working on some new guidelines and regulations. What do you think?

—Biz Spar-Kee

Yup. The new proposal came out last week, and for some reason, the BCC decided on a 15-day comment period, as opposed to the usual-45 day period, so the cannabis industry has been scrambling to make sense of this proposal in time to get some changes made before these new rules go into effect.

The new rules can be summed up thusly: Convoluted. The packaging rules are still ridiculous and hard to follow (although not as ridiculous as Washington state, where they just decided to ban gummy candies and other cool cannabis treats), but the biggest seed in the doobie is the new proposal that would require EVERYONE involved in the industry to have a license of some sort. This applies to websites (looking at you,, celebrities that want to license their name to products (Hello Willie Nelson and the Marley Brothers) and folks that run “white label” cannabis manufacturing businesses. I can tell you that folks are very upset, though. Chelsea Dudgeon, CEO of Newell’s Botanicals (Named as November’s “Startup of the month” by Comstock’s magazine) says if these new rules are adopted, it “will significantly impact not just unlicensed IP holders, but also dozens of manufacturing facilities that have made white labeling services their business model. It will significantly impact the marketplace, product availability, and tax revenue.” Hezekiah Allen, Executive Director of the California Growers Association, says, “For businesses and brands trying to stay alive in [banned counties], this one is going to hurt. A lot of the farms and brands that consumers know and love are threatened, and the shelves might be even less diverse than they are now if these rules go into effect.” He also pledged to work with the legislature in the next session to make changes. Cannabis lawyer and activist Omar Figueroa tells me that, “The cannabis industry is alarmed by these unanticipated obstacles proposed at the last second and that these sorts of major changes should have a 45-day comment period,” and also that he anticipates major pushback from the industry. He describes the chances of this proposal passing as-written as “iffy.” I’m not sure why it’s so hard for the BCC to make it easy for people to open and run cannabis businesses. I mean, we have had cannabis clubs, and cannabis lounges, and all sorts of wonderful cannabis events in California for years. It shouldn’t be too hard to create simple and effective rules that everyone can understand and follow. Sigh.

What are you smoking?

—Anita Hitson

I am polishing off last year’s Purple Candy Cane, and I just finished my stash of Jaeger from Oregon. So good. I am looking forward to visiting a few farms next week as harvest season gets into full swing. Expect a full report soon.