California’s new marijuana regulations could ban former pot felons

By Oscar Pascual |

At long last, California’s nearly 20-year-old medical marijuana industry might finally set regulations in place, although it could keep former Drug War victims from working in the cannabis business.

A deal in place set to regulate the state’s medical marijuana also contains language that would keep former convicts with drug-related felonies out of the industry, reports the San Fransisco Chronicle.

The bill states that the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, which is to be assembled by the authority of the governor, “may deny the application for licensure or renewal of a state license if” the party applying has ever received a “felony conviction for the illegal possession for sale, manufacture, transportation, or cultivation of a controlled substance.”

The policy would keep rehabilitated drug offenders out of the medical market, and would also be problematic to former convicts who already operate in lawfully ran, respectable businesses.

Industry leaders such as Steve DeAngelo, owner of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, worry that the exclusionary regulations will force growers and sellers with drug convictions to operate an illegal market.

“If we don’t create opportunity for them in the legal cannabis industry, they will continue to participate in the illicit cannabis industry,” DeAngelo told the Chronicle.

The proposed regulation would likely effect thousands. 70 percent of adults arrested in California for a marijuana-related offense end up being convicted of those charges, according to High Times. The state has racked up nearly 200,000 felony marijuana arrests over the past decade, all of which could be prevented from working with marijuana.

The proposed regulations are not completely set, however, as there is speculation that lawmakers will attempt to amend the language that could keep thousands out of work during next year’s legislative session.

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