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Bigger, Better

New regs create surge of innovation

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For decades, cannabis cultivators, dispensaries and patients have faced raids and incarceration for growing, distributing and consuming cannabis.

The constant fear of police, property loss and expensive legal defense costs has created generations of cultivators who invested the bare minimum into materials and infrastructure. Cheap equipment, unlicensed contractors and lack of code-enforcement guidelines created ideal conditions for fire hazards and excessive waste.

But with the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act of 2015 (MMRSA), the confidence level has increased for cannabis operators, investors, local government and businesses throughout California. Entrepreneurs and big corporate companies alike are flocking from around the globe to invest in industry revolution.

With its roots in the tree-hugging, peace-loving culture, this new economic boom could blaze a new trail and create solutions to global issues, instead of leaving problems behind for the next generation. Blend the resources of the traditional ag and tech communities with the innovative culture of a multibillion-dollar industry that has survived decades of prohibition, and you may get a whole new era of agricultural advancement in soil testing, fertilizer, pesticides and soil mediums.

Universities across the United States are opening research centers and certificated programs in medical research, economics, agriculture and law. This activity is expediting access and education for cannabis operators and consumers alike.

In states that have implemented thoughtful guidelines, we can already see benefits in areas like environmental protection and economic growth. New water remediation techniques are inspiring traditional agriculture to rethink its methods. As a result, safe alternatives are becoming common practice and quality standards for human consumption are increasing. Distribution models are being developed that protect the farmer's wealth, the patient's health and the economic vitality of the cannabis industry.

Meanwhile, the array of healing properties once considered hippie folklore continue to be validated by modern science, as more health practitioners and medical researchers step forward to prescribe and study medical cannabis as a replaccement for synthetic pharmaceuticals.

California has been a leader in high-quality cannabis production, and with the introduction of the MMRSA, this state has the opportunity to write the playbook on how to implement a sustainable industry boom.

Tawnie Logan is the executive director of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance. Go to scgalliance for more info. Send comments to comments@scgalliance.com.

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