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If successful, the California Craft Cannabis Initiative could lead to better quality cannabis in California and beyond. Drafted by lawyers Heather Burke and Omar Figueroa, the initiative is one of a large handful of recreational marijuana legalization measures vying to make it onto the November 2016 statewide ballot. In addition to retroactively legalizing the use, cultivation, possession, transportation, processing, distribution, and sale of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older, the initiative would establish a seed bank dedicated to the preservation and development of cannabis strains, and would also provide incentives to encourage small-scale growers to produce top-quality weed. We've all heard of craft beers, but have you ever heard of craft cannabis? The concept is the same whether we're talking beer or buds. Small-scale, focused production allows artisans the opportunity to create unique, unusual, or specialty products of often exceptional quality. If California's Craft Cannabis Initiative passes, craft cannabis growers could actually register and trademark their buds. For instance, their would likely be regional designations such as “Humboldt County” or “Emerald Triangle,” as well as certified strains.

What this would mean for the average California cannabis consumer is that what you pay for is what you get, at least when purchasing a certified or trademark-registered product. Seems like a simple enough consumer expectation, but this isn't always the case in legal recreational cannabis states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington where strains are often misnamed, ill grown, and poorly preserved in the mass-production frenzy of trying to meet an ever-rising demand. No means for certifying any particular strains of marijuana exist in these states, which basically results in anyone being able to call their buds anything they like and sell them under any name they choose, and consumers having nothing other than their own eyes, nose, and knowledge of cannabis to help them tell the difference. That Lemon Haze might be Lemon Haze, or it might not. That “rare” strain whose name you've never heard of before could be good old Blue Dream with a fancy new alias. If the initiative in California passes and other states decide to adopt their own certification mechanisms, consumers would be able to tell exactly what they were getting, and growers would have an incentive to protect their strains and develop them to their fullest potential.

The California Craft Cannabis Initiative would also provide an opportunity for growers to have their crops certified organic. This is something none of the legal marijuana states currently offer, which again leaves the consumer with little but their own judgment and the shopkeeper's word to go on when hoping to purchase organically-grown cannabis. As it stands, much of the marijuana sold at dispensaries is coated with pesticides and often contains fungus or heavy metals. It might say “organic,” but there isn't really any way of knowing whether or not it actually is. The California Craft Cannabis Initiative would make it possible for consumers to choose products that are certified organic, which could encourage other legal weed states to follow suit.

The initiative also calls for the establishment of the California Cannabis Genetic Repository. The repository would collect germplasm from all known cannabis strains, carefully preserving and documenting the biodiversity of the cannabis genus. Researchers and others wishing to study the cannabis plant would have free access to the repository, which could lead to the development of strains with higher potency, new hybrids, and more. As the nation's herb supply continues to be flooded with mislabeled or wrongly identified strains, preserving the genetics of specific cannabis strains becomes increasingly important not just for California, but for the world. The sponsors of the California Craft Cannabis Initiative have until December 21st to collect the 365,880 signatures required to get the measure placed on next November's ballot. There are at least ten other recreational cannabis legalization initiatives that are in the process of meeting requirements to make it on the ballot, as well. For more information including the full text of the California Craft Cannabis Initiative, visit www.californiacannabis2016.com .

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