Temporary licenses issued by the Bureau of Cannabis Control for retailers, distributors, microbusinesses, testing laboratories, and event organizers are now in effect and businesses can begin operating in California’s newly-legal commercial cannabis market. More than 400 Cannabis operators, from Shasta Lake to the City of San Diego, now hold state licenses in the largest cannabis market in the country.
“This is an historic day for the state of California,” Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief Lori Ajax said. “It marks the beginning of a legal cannabis marketplace that will be well regulated in order to protect consumers and maintain a level playing field for cannabis-related businesses. We are hopeful that we have put forth a model that other states will look to as an example when they head down the path to legalization.”
Many experts had expressed doubts that California would hit the Monday deadline to get regulations and permits in place so that sales could start. But state regulators worked over the weekend to issue a flurry of last-minute licenses.
Defying federal law, Californians voted for cannabis legalization in November 2016 by passing Proposition 64 with 57 percent of the vote. While it’s been legal to use ever since, it’s been illegal to buy or sell until now. California is now the sixth state in the nation to allow recreational cannabis sales, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada. The marijuana market — the largest cannabis one in the country — is expected to grow to $7 billion annually by 2020.
The Bureau began issuing temporary licenses ahead of its January 1 mandate. In addition to the more than 400 licenses issued by the Bureau, over 4,400 users have registered with the Bureau’s online system and more than 1,800 applications have been submitted. In the greater Bay Area, nearly 50 retailers, distributors and testing labs are now open for business. In addition, about 20 licenses for cannabis cultivation and 22 licenses for manufacturing, which involves extracting the plant’s chemicals, have been issued by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, respectively. Those interested in applying for a license or running a license search can access the Bureau’s online licensing system at https://online.bcc.ca.gov/.
A temporary license issued by the Bureau is good for 120 days, after which a permanent license must be obtained.