COVID-19 Updates and Regulatory Relief

The Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) is committed to protecting the public health, safety, and welfare of Californians. We understand the significant impact the ongoing global pandemic is having on our licensees, their employees, and customers. During these trying times, businesses, government agencies, and residents are having to adapt to new measures and precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Bureau recognizes the critical need to be flexible in confronting the virus. Pursuant to section 5038 of the Bureau's regulations, a licensee who is unable to comply with a licensing requirement due to the disaster may submit a relief request to the Bureau. Additional information and resources can be found below.

Updated Notice Regarding Expiration Of Medical Marijuana Identification Cards

On September 23, 2020, the Governor issued another executive order, Executive Order N-80-20, affecting the expiration date of Medical Marijuana Identification Cards (MMIC) issued under Health and Safety Code section 11362.71, which concerns identification cards for persons authorized to engage in the medical use of cannabis and their designated primary caregivers. This order extends identification cards that have expired on or after March 4, 2020 to be valid through December 31, 2020.

Retailers licensed by the Bureau must accept MMICs that have an expiration date on or after March 4, 2020, as valid until December 31, 2020, as provided by the executive order. Please note that the executive order only applies to MMICs issued under Health and Safety Code section 11362.71 and does not apply to medicinal cannabis recommendations obtained from a patient's physician.

Executive Order N-80-20 can be found at:

https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/9.23.20-EO-N-80-20-COVID-19-text.pdf.

Updated Notice Regarding State Stay-At-Home Order Issued December 3, 2020

On Thursday, December 3, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a new Stay-at-Home Order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians and to continue facilitating a consistent approach across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order goes into effect at 12:59 p.m. on December 5 and will be applied on a regional basis. If a region falls below the 15% ICU threshold, it will have 24 hours to implement the Stay-at-Home Order. The order will remain in effect for at least three weeks. Learn more about this order.

The order continues to identify certain services as essential and these services can continue operations while the Stay-at-Home Order is in effect. Cannabis businesses remain essential businesses under the order. To ensure public and employee safety, the order limits the number of people on a cannabis retail premises to 20% of the capacity of the retail location. Cannabis licensees can otherwise continue to operate in the same manner they are now, including activities allowed by approved disaster-relief requests, provided their operations comply with state and local rules and regulations. To determine if your region is subject to the stay-at-home order, please visit: COVID19.CA.GOV.

Any licensee that continues to operate must adopt social-distancing and anti-congregating measures, and must follow the CDC's Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease at all times.

The Governor recently announced programs to provide financial assistance to certain small businesses. This includes immediate tax relief from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) in the form of automatic filing extensions, interest-free payment plans, or a hiring tax credit of up to $100,000 to offset income or sales and use taxes. Information about these programs can be found at CDTFA’s COVID-19 web page. You can also learn more about the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant, including availability and eligibility, by signing up for updates from the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. Below are resources for employers, employees, and public safety:

Instructions for Requesting Disaster Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to Governor Newsom's emergency declaration regarding COVID-19, Bureau licensees who are unable to comply with specific regulatory requirements may request relief from specific licensing requirements pursuant to section 5038 of the Bureau's regulations.

Requests for disaster relief should be submitted using the Notification and Request Form, (BCC-LIC-027), and may be submitted to the Bureau at BCC@dca.ca.gov. Requests for disaster relief must be submitted by an Owner or Primary Contact for the license. Requests should include the licensee's name, the license number, the specific regulatory requirements the licensee is seeking relief for, why the relief is needed, and a detailed description of how the licensee plans to conduct their operations if the relief is granted.

Licensees must obtain approval from the Bureau to be relieved of specific licensing requirements before changing operations. Requests for disaster relief will be reviewed by the Bureau's staff in a timely manner and responses to requests received will be provided via email. Temporary relief for specific licensing requirements may be issued for a specified amount of time. The Bureau may require that certain conditions be followed for the relief to be granted.

Any questions regarding disaster relief requests may be submitted to BCC@dca.ca.gov.

License Renewal Fee Deferrals

Businesses with state commercial cannabis licenses expiring between July 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020 may request 60-day deferrals of their license fee payments.

The license fee deferrals are intended to provide immediate financial assistance to state cannabis licensees impacted by COVID-19. Though deemed an "essential business" under Executive Order N-33-20, the cannabis industry is excluded from federal or banking-dependent assistance for small businesses, due to cannabis' status as a Schedule I controlled substance.

Licensee fee deferrals may be requested for any license expiring between July 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020. With a deferral, the license fee will be due 60 days from the date of the license expiration. Refunds will not be given for fees that have already been paid.

Additional fee deferrals are not available for licenses that expired before July 1, 2020. License fee payment due dates for fee deferrals already granted are not extended.

Any questions regarding license fee deferrals may be submitted to BCC@dca.ca.gov.

How to Request a License Renewal Fee Deferral:

Licensees must submit a written request for regulatory relief to be considered for a license fee deferral. Here's how to submit your request:

  1. Submit a complete renewal application to the Bureau. A fee is not required in order to submit a renewal application.
  2. Complete the Bureau Notification and Request Form (Form 27), Section A, and note the details of your specific request in the comments section.
  3. Email your completed Bureau Notification and Request Form to BCC@dca.ca.gov. This request must be submitted by an owner of the business, who is currently listed on the license record.

FAQs

Are Bureau licensees considered "essential"?

Yes. Because cannabis is an essential medicine for many residents, licensees may continue to operate at this time as long as their operations comply with local rules and regulations. The State Public Health Officer's full designation of "Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers" is available here.

Are there requirements for cannabis businesses that continue to operate?

Yes. Any licensee that continues to operate must adopt social distancing and anti-congregating measures and must follow the CDC's Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease at all times. All licensees must comply with all state and local requirements for operating a commercial cannabis business unless the licensee has received approval for relief from specific regulatory requirements.

Are there resources for businesses that continue to operate?

Yes:

Is the Bureau still reviewing and processing applications?

Yes. The Bureau is continuing its regulatory responsibilities under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act.

Do Bureau licensees need to follow local requirements?

Yes. Bureau licensees are expected to comply with all local rules and requirements.

Do Bureau licensees need to follow local orders if they are different than state orders?

Local jurisdictions can impose stricter requirements than the state and licensees must comply with local rules and regulations.

Can retailers conduct deliveries of cannabis goods?

Licensees who have been authorized to conduct delivery of cannabis goods may continue to do so in accordance with all state and local rules.

Are there requirements for retailers who wish to begin doing deliveries for the first time?

Provided you already have a retail license from the Bureau, you may engage in delivery activities if such activities are authorized by your local jurisdiction. A retailer who wishes to begin conducting delivery for the first time is required to submit updated Operating Procedures and provide the Bureau with information regarding any motor vehicle used for the delivery of cannabis goods, including the vehicle's make, model, color, Vehicle Identification Number, license plate number, and Department of Motor Vehicles registration information. Retailers are responsible for complying with the delivery provisions in Chapter 3 of the Bureau's regulations.

Do licensees need approval from the Bureau before they stop complying with applicable state regulations due to the pandemic?

Yes. You must submit a request to the Bureau asking for relief from specific regulatory provisions and you must receive a written approval from the Bureau before you stop complying with any state regulations.

Can retailers provide curbside pick-up of cannabis goods for customers?

Licensed storefront retailers who wish to conduct sales through curbside pick-up must submit a request for disaster relief and obtain approval from both the Bureau and their local jurisdiction.

Are there methods for delivery drivers to minimize physical contact with customers?

Licensed retailers who wish to be exempt from the customer signature requirement on the delivery request receipt must submit a request and obtain approval from the Bureau.

Are delivery employees allowed to carry more than $5,000 of cannabis goods as provided in section 5418?

At this time, the requirements of section 5418 remain in place.

Are retailers allowed to extend their operating hours beyond the times allowed in section 5403?

At this time, the requirements of section 5403 remain in place.

Can retailers accept expired driver licenses from customers?

As long as the identification that is being verified falls under the California Department of Motor Vehicle's notice regarding 60-day extensions during the COVID-19 crisis, then the identification would be considered valid.

COVID-19 Updates