California’s newest cannabis regulation entity is marking its 100th day as a state department.
The new Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) says that, in its first 100 days, it has taken significant steps to support California cannabis businesses and improve the regulatory framework.
The DCC is a consolidation of the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the California Department of Agriculture’s CalCannabis Program (CDFA), and the California Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch (CDPH).
The DCC says its merging of the organizational structure of three programs into one creates a singular point of contact for stakeholders that forges its strategic plan, unified culture, and development of its mission, vision, and values.
“We’ve made meaningful early progress as a new department, but this is only the beginning,” says DCC Director Nicole Elliot. “DCC will continue to direct significant effort to building a safe, sustainable, and equitable cannabis market, including by engaging with all stakeholders, improving access to licensure, and streamlining and simplifying the regulatory framework.”
Among the accomplishments mentioned by the DCC is the launch of a $100 million grant program to support the transition of businesses into an annual licensing structure, and the consolidation of three regulations into one to reduce duplicate and conflicting cannabis business regulations.
The DCC says the combination also aligns core application requirements and allows business-to-business trade samples.
According to the DCC, its leadership team toured more than 20 licensed cannabis businesses of all license types to engage directly with licensees.
Having transitioned hundreds of provisional licenses to annual ones, the DCC says it recently issued its 3,000th license.
The DCC says it reviewed 140 applicant-submitted standard operating procedures and 100 method validations for testing laboratory licenses.
The DCC says it has also completed ISO 17025 pre-assessment for California’s state-run cannabis testing laboratory and relaunched cannabis.ca.gov with expanded information.
On the law enforcement side, the DCC says it served or assisted on 118 search warrants on unlicensed activity, resulting in seizure or destruction of 71,751 pounds of cannabis and derived products worth nearly $121.6 million.
The DCC also says its efforts resulted in the eradication of 273,326 plants, the seizure of 14 firearms, and confiscation of $655,000 in cash.
According to the DCC, the law enforcement efforts focused on Mendocino County, Siskiyou County, and the Southern California high desert region to support enforcement against water diversions.
Regarding the future, the DCC says it is conducting an assessment of all processes and procedures that were in place under the previous programs.
The goal, according to the DCC, is to maintain the best of each program, advance stakeholder engagement, and support applicants and licensees.
A major focus of the DCC’s efforts is on aligning inspection programs for the entire supply chain as it works toward creating a robust routine inspection program that enhances accountability for businesses.
The DCC says that it expects to take multiple comprehensive regulatory actions during the next year to further simplify and enhance the cannabis regulatory framework.
Enhancements and modifications include fee waivers for equity applicants and licensees before the end of the year.
The DCC says it plans to engage with equity applicants and licensees to gain a better understanding of their unique needs and challenges.
According to the DCC, it is also deepening partnerships with local and state partners to support licensing, compliance, enforcement, and equity programs.
Through the DCC, California will continue to support and provide technical assistance to local governments and create avenues for businesses to participate in the legal cannabis marketplace.
The DCC says it will expand its This is California Cannabis campaign during the next six months to include retailers and manufacturers in addition to cultivators.
The Department says it will release education and additional support for businesses to remain compliant post-licensure within the coming year.
While the DCC and the Newsom Administration will make additional leadership and advisory role appointments in the coming months, the Department says it anticipates ongoing recruitment to fill vacant positions.
The DCC says the hiring will support the development of necessary infrastructure to support its mission and fulfill its mandates.