California just signed a new law into effect that will consolidate the state’s cannabis programs into one department.
This was done to help simplify regulatory oversight and make access to licenses more clear and straightforward for those seeking to find them.
It would consolidate the three agencies that already exist to regulate legal cannabis in the state, which are the Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis within the Department of Food and Agriculture as well as the Cannabis Manufacturing branch within the Department of Public Health into just one, single agency, the new Department of Cannabis Control.
This bill, Assembly Bill 141, also known as the “governor’s trailer bill,” is being backed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
This program, if it becomes official, would extend the lifespan of the provisional licensing program to allow provisional permits. These will be able to be renewed until January 1, 2025. It would also allow for trade samples of cannabis products to be shared among businesses, addressing another issue the industry is currently facing.
“This bill would require the Department of Cannabis Control to provide information on its internet website related to the status of every license issued by the department, including the county of a licensee’s address of record,” the bill language states. “The bill would require, beginning January 1, 2022, this information to include information on suspensions and revocations of licenses and final decisions adopted by the department. The bill would prohibit the sharing of personal identifying information, including home addresses, home telephone numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers.
“This bill would authorize the Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Department of Public Health to collect fees to cover the reasonable regulatory costs of performing the duties relating to their respective programs and to levy civil penalties, and to deny, suspend, or revoke a registration or certification issued pursuant those programs, for specified violations. The bill would require the penalties or fees collected by the Department of Food and Agriculture to be deposited in the Department of Food and Agriculture Fund and would require the penalties or fees collected by the State Department of Public Health to be deposited in the Food Safety Fund.”
California Cannabis Changes on the Horizon
However, despite the fact that this bill will make a lot of powerful moves, some experts say the measure falls short of what’s needed to make changes that are impactful. Lawmakers who want to see more changes to the bill are going to tackle that project in August.
“The state’s consolidation effort delivers on the commitment made by the Newsom Administration to listen to and work with California’s legal cannabis industry to streamline participation in the legal market by offering a central point of contact for licensed operators,” Lourdes Castro Ramirez, secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing (BCSH) Agency, said in a statement.
“I’m pretty confident it’s going to get addressed,” said Genine Coleman, executive director of the Origins Council, which represents cannabis farmers all over California, regarding the issues the cannabis industry wants to tackle. “The language in the bill…absolutely needs cleanup.”
The Department of Cannabis Control will be housed within the BCSH Agency. It will handle licensing and enforcement functions that were handled in the past by the Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis within the Department of Food and Agriculture as well as the Cannabis Manufacturing branch within the Department of Public Health.
The DCC will also be in charge of the track-and-trace system, and the California Cannabis Portal is now on the DCC website. It will still serve as the main point of contact and information about cannabis, and will remain live and accessible while the change is taking place.
Addison Herron-Wheeler is co-publisher and owner of OUT FRONT Magazine, and web editor of New Noise Magazine. She covers cannabis and heavy metal, and is author of Wicked Woman: Women in Metal from the 1960s to Now and Respirator, a collection of short stories.