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Monday, March 20, 2023

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State rolls out consolidated cannabis regulations

The California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) has announced its consolidated regulatory package to streamline and simplify cannabis regulations, ease burdens on licensees and strengthen consumer protections. These new regulations, developed with community and industry input, are now in effect.

Local governments still maintain a patchwork of municipal and county rules, regulations, and fees that cannabis businesses must also comply with. Previous California state regulations have been criticized for being complex, costly and in a constant state of change. The new rules are, in part, an effort to address these criticisms. The full text of the regulations can be found here.

“The adoption of these regulations represents DCC’s commitment to advancing rational regulatory improvements that eliminate unnecessary and burdensome regulatory challenges for cannabis operators and advance protections for consumers,” said DCC Director Nicole Elliott. “I want to applaud the contributions of our many partners, including our licensees, public health officials and local cannabis regulators for providing valuable feedback and input during this important process.”

Comprehensive approach taken

This consolidation clarifies and makes licensing and enforcement criteria consistent for commercial cannabis businesses, in addition to other regulatory reforms.

The regulations retain many provisions from the emergency regulations, and reflect critical changes that incorporate feedback from licensees and other stakeholders. Some of the key provisions in the adopted regulations now in force are outlined below.

cannabusiness retail salesperson license

Protection of consumers, of youth

  • Limits harmful ingredients and youth-friendly flavorings in inhalant products (Regulations Sections 15000, 17303.1)
  • Expand prohibitions on marketing, advertising, and merchandise attractive to youth (Section 15040 of the Regulation)
  • Supports expanded access to safe and proven products through delivery to regions of the state with limited access to legal cannabis (Section 15418 of the Regulation)
  • Require that employees in a licensed premises or who handle cannabis be 21 years of age or older (Section 15000.6 of the Regulation)
  • Ensures that labeling of cannabinoid content on flowers reflects common and intoxicating forms of THC (Section 15700 of the Regulation)
  • Ensures that testing laboratories are independent and free of conflicts of interest (Section 15004.1 of the Regulation)

State licensing requirements

  • Eliminates the requirement to provide extensive financial documentation (Section 15002 of the Regulations)
  • Clarifies who must be disclosed as a cannabis business owner (Section 15003 of the Regulation)
  • Eliminates the requirement for companies to continuously update lists of low-level investors (Section 15004 of the Regulations)
  • Facilitates companies to provide information necessary for CEQA review (Section 15010 of the Regulation)
  • Simplifies the process for changing license information (Section 15027 of the Regulations)

Flexibility to support licensed cannabis businesses

  • Provides outdoor growers flexibility to use traditional light deprivation without requiring a license change (Regulations Sections 15000, 16202)
  • Supports more efficient distribution of products throughout the state (Section 15301 of the Regulation) and with less environmental impact (Section 15306 of the Regulation)
  • Provides distributors with the flexibility to rapidly expand vehicle fleets in response to demand (Regulations Section 15311) while limiting retrofitting required for secured storage spaces (Regulations Section 15311)
  • Eliminates the requirement for growers to weigh individual plants after harvest (Regulations Sections 15047.1-15052)
  • Permanently allow curbside delivery practices that have safely served customers during COVID-19 (Regulations Section 15402)
  • Permit food hall operators to sell prepackaged foods and beverages or allow transportation of prepared foods and beverages (Section 15407 of the Regulation)
  • Expands opportunities for farmers and product manufacturers to participate in cannabis events and display products to consumers (Section 15603.1 of the Regulation)

DCC has also put together technical guidance documents on inhalable products and tinctures and beverages, as well as a comparison chart intended to help licensees understand the new requirements.

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