Earlier this week, the Department of Cannabis Control released its proposed emergency regulations to streamline licensing in the cannabis industry under one roof at the state level.
When releasing the proposed rule changes, the DCC noted it was the second and most significant action the department has taken since coming into existence on July 12 to take control of licensing and regulate commercial cannabis activity within California.
The move comes as a result of Assembly Bill 141. The authors of the bill knew spreading responsibilities across the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the state Department of Public Health has not proven effective despite folks’ best intentions when attempting to implement the will of the voters from Prop. 64. AB141 moved all the responsibilities of those other three departments to the new DCC housed in the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.
If the new regulations are approved, they will take effect at the end of the month.
While there are many obvious reasons entrepreneurs would be excited the state is consolidating the permit process, it should also be noted an uptick in enforcement can be expected in the years to come after they’re finalized. This is a fair expectation because essentially the DCC will be consolidating that under one roof too.
“Today’s action reflects the governor’s commitment and our ongoing effort to streamline requirements for California cannabis businesses and simplify participation in the legal, regulated market,” said DCC Director Nicole Elliott. “Many of the proposed changes are the direct result of feedback received during consolidation.”
We asked the DCC what the consolidation process has looked like up to this point.
“As we were preparing to form the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), we committed to our stakeholders that we would work towards improving the regulations with an eye towards making it easier to operate within the legal market. Those improvements began with the consolidation of the programs, and this proposed set of regulations is another step forward,” the DCC told L.A. Weekly. “This effort focused on consolidating and conforming the existing three sets of regulations and enhancing them in areas where we were legally allowed – for example, to allow for business-to-business trade samples.”
The DCC believes the moves make meaningful progress toward the goal of streamlining the requirements, “However, this is by no means the end of our efforts to improve the regulatory framework – it is just the beginning.”
The DCC also noted the changes would be sent to the state’s Office of Administrative Law. The OAL will hold a five-day public comment period. The DCC expects that comment period to begin around September 15. Pending approval after that, the new rules would kick in at the end of the month.
We reached out to OG cannabis attorney Omar Figueroa. He used to help keep people out of cages for growing pot before licensees were a thing, still does! These days, Figueroa also serves on the National Cannabis Industry Association and California Cannabis Tourism Association boards, is a founding lifetime member and former director of the International Cannabis Bar Association, a lifetime member of the NORML Legal Committee, and recognized with the Distinguished Counsel’s Award by NORML.
We asked Figueroa if the move to consolidate things will help alleviate some of the struggles people have faced in attempting to enter the marketplace in recent years. He believes eventually it will.
As for the move making enforcement easier?
“Yes. I think for a long time California regulators have been in an instructional mode when it comes to enforcement,” Figueroa told L.A. Weekly. He felt there weren’t a lot of resources going towards pursuing the penalties or rigidly enforcing the current regulations, “and that has led to a lackadaisical approach to regulatory compliance.”
But he quickly noted it’s fair to presume a lot of the confusion there came from having three different sets of rules.
We asked Figueroa if he was in charge of consolidating everything, what would be his first move?
“I would love to see direct-to-consumer sales from cultivators to consumers,” he replied. “That’s a little daily or temporary retail licenses. We can have like one or two, three or four days, or maybe events per year when cultivators can have direct interactions and direct sales to consumers.”
Figueroa believes this would be major for farms struggling to survive.
“One or two events would be enough to provide a lifeline to many of these craft cultivators and the 1,000s losing all these incredible genetics,” Figueroa said.