California Highway Patrol Captains Rich Desmond and Kevin Davis explained how their agency deals with the movement of cannabis across the state’s highways, highlighting the big Cannabis Transportation discussion session Friday in Sacramento.
State Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma organized the meeting, which focused on new cannabis legislation signed by Gov. Brown.
Here are the highlights: “Our primary concern is always going to be the impaired driver,” Desmond said. The CHP currently operates a confusing system where enforcement largely depends on the local District Attorney in each of California’s 58 counties. The CHP would love to have “consistency and certainty,” Desmond said. He noted the CHP hopes California builds a comprehensive database that allows law enforcement and the cannabis industry to “track and trace” every shipment. Track and trace would eliminate many questions when transport drivers encounter police. Davis noted most CHP officers encounter cannabis transportation “only once or twice a year,” and typically don’t have the level of expertise they have with substances such as alcohol.
A legislative Roundtable led by staffers from Assembly Member Rob Bonta and Assembly Member Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr. agreed the October cannabis legislation signed by Gov. Brown needs cleanup language and perhaps additional legislation. Three specific areas left out of the new legislation were discussed: rules for product delivery and live plant transportation, and resolution concerning cannabis on Native American sovereign lands. These categories and others will be prime on the cleanup list. Another area to focus on is local government. The legislation is strong on local control. “Local jurisdictions have to figure out what they want to do,” said An-Chi Tsou, senior consultant for Assemblyman Bonta.
Ricky Bennett, vice-president of Blue Line Protection Group of Colorado, emphasized the importance of independent, professional transportation services for cash and product. “A third-party vendor transport company is your eyes and ears,” Bennett said. A third-party transport provides safety and security, Bennett said.
Barry Broad, a director of the California Teamsters union, said organized labor will fight the “underground economy” of non-compliant cannabis transportation and delivery. The Teamsters, who represent drivers and warehouse workers, have a “labor peace agreement” with the state, which means the union won’t strike or harass cannabis transport companies as long as the company owners “remain neutral” during any efforts to organize their workforce. Transport and delivery drivers will be required to be “100 percent clean” while on the job, whether unionized or not, Broad said. Transport companies will have to comply with labor laws.
David Hua, CEO of Meadow software, demonstrated his third-party platform technology for on-line delivery. “We never touch the marijuana,” Hua said.Hua demonstrated the efficiency of his platform by arranging for a cannabis delivery to 450 N Street in Sacramento – while the Board of Equalization meeting was underway. “This is just a demonstration,” he said, explaining why the product didn’t arrive.
CalGrowers Executive Director attended the event. "Our focus was and continues to be on small commercial and consumer direct delivery. We strongly support the requirements for large commercial shipments to be subject to more stringent requirements, but it is critical to the survival of many craft-growers that small shipments be more streamlined."
Allen went on to say "It is encouraging to see how much common ground we have with the CHP. This panel was certainly a highlight of the event. We could not agree that roadway safety and preventing impaired driving is a high priority. We are looking forward to working more with CHP to develop effective regulation to achieve this goal."