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California Is Looking for a Weed Czar

Wanted: a professional candidate with a graduate degree, lobbying experience, and at least a passing interest in marijuana law. Also required, strong communication skills and the innate ability to manage large government agencies under the skeptical eye of the public.

California Gov. Jerry Brown
California Gov. Jerry Brown

The State of California is looking for a marijuana czar, a man or woman to run the new state Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. Essentially, this person would be responsible for enforcing a raft of new MMJ regulations that are taking effect across the state.

The job posting explains:

“Under the direction and supervision of the Department of Consumer Affairs . . . Director and Chief Deputy Director, and at the pleasure of the Governor, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation . . . Chief is responsible for oversight, policy, operations, and management of the Bureau. As a member of the Department’s Executive Management Team, the Chief will formulate, implement, and interpret Bureau policies and procedures; advise the Director and Executive Staff on all matters relating to the Bureau’s operations and set and perpetuate the goals and objectives of the Department’s strategic plan through subordinate staff.”

It’s a big job, and it comes with a hefty salary (as government jobs go): $116,000 to $129,000 a year, depending on qualifications. The state is looking for a bureaucrat with a graduate degree in public policy, administration, or political science; legislative or lobbying experience; knowledge of issues facing the bureau; “demonstrated ability to work within a large organizational or governmental structure”; and a “consultative approach.”

California recently introduced new marijuana regulations

The regulations took effect earlier this year, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed them into law. They came after many years of tussling between medical marijuana advocates, law enforcement, and other groups opposed to cannabis reform.

The rules impose tight restrictions on MMJ dispensaries across the state, but they were welcomed by activists. The lack of statewide regulations under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 left the state in danger of federal intervention.

Police groups and municipal lobbies had long opposed new regulations but came around over the last few years. That may be in part because the state is considered a good bet to legalize the drug completely next year, and reform opponents want to enact what restrictions they still can.

Regulations will facilitate the transition to recreational legalization

Amarijuana leaf clear well-regulated market for medical marijuana should make it easier for the state to transition to a legal market for recreational use. Participants on both sides of the debate praised the new law when it went into effect.

There’s no doubt the new cannabis czar will face a tough job. He or she will have to draft and enforce complex regulations, and deal with farmers, retailers, police, lawyers, doctors, lawmakers, and fellow bureaucrats, not to mention the media and federal officials.

The public scrutiny will be intense, and there will be plenty of people hoping for failure. But there will also be a unique opportunity, a chance to shape the future of a $1 billion industry and help the nation’s largest state move toward full legalization.

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