California Cannabis Czar Outlines Initial Rollout of Commercial Applications


Lori Ajax, head of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control – also known as “The Marijuana Czar” of California – spoke about expectations to new licensing rules for the Golden State to a group of industry professionals at the California Cannabis Business Summit hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) in Anaheim last week.

Ajax outlined a pragmatic approach the Bureau is taking over the course of the next few months to roll-out applications, stating the Bureau, along with the Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health, will open applications for temporary licenses beginning toward the end of November. However, no licenses will actually be issued before the set date of January 1st, 2018.

In her presentation, Ajax emphasized the importance of stakeholder engagement in creation of the process. Ajax repeated how significantly public input had influenced writing and re-writing of procedures thus far, and encouraged continued public dialogue. The “Czar” indicated the Bureau, along with the corresponding Departments just mentioned, will be holding licensing workshops beginning in October arounds the state to prep interested entrepreneurs on the process. Reflexively, Ajax points out the key to the evolving permitting process will rest on community involvement.

From our friends at Leafly:

“With nearly 500 cities in California, Ajax explained, her office isn’t adopting a one-size-fits-all definition. ‘We’re really relying on the locals to specify what that local authorization is,’ she said, adding that the ultimate goal is simply to ‘confirm with the locals that that applicant is authorized by the locals to conduct commercial cannabis activity for that specified jurisdiction.’”

As for the issuance of licenses, Ajax acknowledges the need for flexibility and assured the crowd the agencies will work with businesses to prevent disruption of those operating in good faith:

“While no licenses, temporary or otherwise, will be granted before Jan. 1, Ajax pledged that the office will work to issue the licenses as quickly as possible. Approvals will be sent via email, with the appropriate documentation attached, she said. ‘You’re just going to print out your license.’

“Temporary licenses will be valid for four months from the issue date, Ajax said, although they can be extended for 90 days. And if the Bureau of Cannabis Control somehow lags on issuing permanent licenses, the temporary ones can be extended further. ‘If it’s on us,’ Ajax pledged, ‘we will continue to give extensions so you can keep operating.’”

When California does roll out full legalization at the beginning of the year, we know that the market will be massive and the potential astronomical. It is also apparent that staying engaged politically at both the local and state level will be of extreme importance. There will be a lot of paperwork, rules, regulations and laws to deal with, but due diligence could be a small price to pay to flourish in the sixth largest economy in the world.

Stay on top of the latest in California cannabis in 2018 and join the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco on February 1 & 2, 2018! You also may be interested in networking with entrepreneurs, investors and advocates from around the globe at the ICBC in beautiful Kauai, Hawaii, December 1st thru the 3rd.