The Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) is the lead agency in regulating commercial cannabis licenses for medical and adult-use cannabis in California. The Bureau is responsible for licensing retailers, distributors, testing laboratories, microbusinesses, and temporary cannabis events. For information on the other two cannabis licensing authorities, please visit the websites of CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch.
BCC Strategic Plan 2020-2022
See below for a timeline of significant state cannabis updates:
- 1996 - Voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) - which legalized the use of medicinal cannabis in California. Since the proposition was passed, most regulation was done by local governments.
- 2015 - The California State Legislature enacted three bills - AB 243 (Wood, Chapter 688); AB 266 (Bonta, Chapter 689); and SB 643 (McGuire, Chapter 719) - that collectively established a comprehensive state regulatory framework for the licensing and enforcement of cultivation, manufacturing, retail sale, transportation, storage, delivery and testing of medicinal cannabis in California. This regulatory scheme is known as the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA). MCRSA also established the state's three cannabis licensing authorities.
- November 2016 - California voters approved Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). Under Proposition 64, adults 21 years of age or older can legally grow, possess, and use cannabis for non-medicinal purposes, with certain restrictions. Additionally, AUMA also made it legal to sell and distribute cannabis through a regulated business as of January 1, 2018.
- June 2017 - The California State Legislature passed a budget trailer bill, Senate Bill 94, that integrated MCRSA with AUMA to create the Medicinal and Adult‐Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). Under MAUCRSA, a single regulatory system governs the medical and adult-use cannabis industry in California.
- December 2017 - The Bureau adopted emergency cannabis regulations to clarify and make specific licensing and enforcement criteria for commercial cannabis businesses under the MAUCRSA. The Bureau readopted these regulations in June 2018, which remained in effect while the Bureau went through the formal rulemaking process to create non-emergency regulations.
- January 2018 - Temporary licenses issued by the Bureau for retailers, distributors, testing laboratories, microbusinesses, and event organizers went into effect and businesses began operating in California's legal commercial cannabis market. More than 10,000 cannabis operators now hold state licenses in the largest cannabis market in the country.
- January 2019 - The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) officially approved state regulations for cannabis businesses across the supply chain from cultivation to retail. These new cannabis regulations took effect immediately after their approval, meaning the emergency regulations are no longer in effect.
Lori Ajax - Chief
In February 2016, Governor Brown appointed Chief Ajax as the first Chief of the newly formed Bureau of Cannabis Control. Prior to her appointment, Chief Ajax served as Chief Deputy Director at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control where she spent 22 years working her way up the ranks, starting at the investigator trainee level. Ajax spent ten years in private industry prior to her state government career. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from California State University, Sacramento.
Tamara Colson - Assistant Chief Counsel
Tamara Colson was appointed Assistant Chief Counsel for the Bureau of Cannabis Control on May 4, 2016. She had been Assistant General Counsel at the California Department of Consumer Affairs since 2014. Previously, she was Chief Prosecuting Counsel at the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control from 2011 to 2014, Special Assistant Inspector General in the California Office of the Inspector General from 2006 to 2011, and an Administrative Law Judge at the California Office of Administrative Hearings from 2005 to 2006. Ms. Colson also served as Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General from 1999 to 2005 and was an associate attorney at Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann and Girard from 1997 to 1999. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law.
Andre Jones - Assistant Chief of External and Intergovernmental Affairs
Andre Jones was appointed as assistant chief of external and intergovernmental affairs at the Bureau of Cannabis Control on August 23, 2017. Jones had been a regional director at the California Charter Schools Association since 2016. He was chief of staff in the Office of Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan from 2008 to 2016, executive director at the Hearts and Minds Alliance from 2004 to 2007, a senior account executive at Solem and Associates from 1999 to 2001, a senior associate at Martin and Glantz from 1997 to 1999, a campaign consultant for the San Francisco 49ers from 1996 to 1997, Bay Area campaign director at Progressive Campaigns from 1994 to 1996 and a labor organizer and recruiter for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations from 1993 to 1994.
Alex Traverso - Assistant Chief of Communications
Alex Traverso was appointed Assistant Chief of Communications at the Bureau of Cannabis Control at the California Department of Consumer Affairs on November 1, 2016. He had been Assistant Deputy Director of Corporate Communications at the California State Lottery since 2008. He had also previously served as Communications Director in the Office of California State Assemblymember Lloyd Levine from 2006 to 2008; Deputy Press Secretary in the Office of California State Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez from 2004 to 2006; Public Relations Manager at the California Exposition and State Fair from 2003 to 2004; and Assistant Press Secretary in the Office of the Governor from 1999 to 2003. Mr. Traverso earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California, Davis.