By Max Cherney for Vice News. California has finally decided to regulate medical marijuana, taking steps to end a two-decade-long free-for-all that has been blamed for worsening the state’s drought and causing environmental damage, though it remains to be seen whether enough of the state’s black market growers will abide by the new laws to make a significant impact.
Governor Jerry Brown signed three bills into law on Friday that collectively amount to a massive change for the federally illegal industry, which is currently governed in California by a motley collection of city and county laws that range from stringent to wildly permissive.
The new laws passed by the state legislature treat weed like an agricultural crop, and create a new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation (BUMMR) — pronounced “bummer” by some legislators — that will issue mandatory licenses for everyone in the industry. But perhaps the most significant development is a move by lawmakers to address the egregious environmental damage that the industry has caused in the state’s forests.