Cannabis businesses in California can’t be within 600 feet of schools. Shops have to close by 10 p.m., and they need 24-hour video surveillance.

Those regulations are in the new rule book for California’s cannabis industry, which state regulators released Thursday.

“I feel a big sigh of relief. It’s a big milestone for us to release these regulations,” said Lori Ajax, chief of the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done. No rest for the weary.”

The rulebook gives aspiring and established marijuana businesses their first look at 276 pages of regulations they must abide by come Jan. 1, when the state will start issuing licenses for the multibillion-dollar industry and allowing recreational pot sales to start for the first time.

Conflicting laws

The rushed timeline is the result of a series of conflicting laws passed over the last two years.

In fall 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a trio of bills that mandated the first set of comprehensive regulations on medical marijuana in California by the start of 2018.

Then in fall 2016, voters passed Proposition 64, legalizing recreational marijuana. That measure also called for recreational cannabis businesses to get state licenses starting Jan. 1, 2018.

Related: The Cannifornian – California cannabis news and culture

Since they were already at work on rules to rein in California’s massive medical marijuana industry, state regulators — the Department of Food and Agriculture for cultivators, the Department of Public Health for manufacturers and the Department of Consumer Affair’s Bureau of Cannabis Control for retailers, distributors and testers — published 211 pages of draft rules for that sector in April. The agencies then held a series of public hearings throughout the state, collecting thousands of comments from stakeholders.

The plan was to incorporate that feedback into final medical marijuana regulations, which were expected to arrive this fall. And the three agencies would also use the comments to shape recreational cannabis regulations, which would be issued under an “emergency rulemaking process,” since there wasn’t time to hold more public hearings before the Jan. 1 deadline.

But in June, legislators tacked Senate Bill 94 onto the state budget. That trailer bill — known as the the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act — called for merging the medical and recreational laws into one unified system. And where there were discrepancies between the two, the bill largely sided with proposed rules for the recreational sector, including how cannabis would be distributed and what types of licenses would be available.

That meant the three state agencies had to go back to the drawing board. In September, they officially withdrew draft medical regulations and started crafting a new set of rules for both industry sectors under the streamlined emergency process.

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Originally posted by Brooke Staggs for the Orange County Register