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The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC California). What it is and why you should care.

Simply put, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is the regulator that oversees all commercial cannabis activity in the State of California. The DCC creates commercial cannabis regulations, drafts and circulates proposed regulations, and is in charge of drafting emergency regulations. The DCC is also responsible for enforcement actions against non-compliant licensed cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, cultivation, testing laboratories, and retail businesses.

When was the Department of Cannabis Control created?

The DCC was created in 2017 as part of the Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation Safety Act (MAUCRSA). The purpose of MAUCRSA was to create a comprehensive regulatory framework governing commercial cannabis activity in California. The DCC was established to ensure that commercial cannabis activity is conducted safely and complies with state laws, including ensuring only tested cannabis products are sold to the public.

What does the DCC’s rulemaking process look like?

DCC Rulemaking
DCC regulations image

The department’s rulemaking process typically begins with a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). In the NPRM, the DCC outlines its proposed changes to regulations and provides an opportunity for public comment.

After gathering input from stakeholders where stakeholders can submit comments and concerns about the proposed new rules, the DCC drafts a final version of the regulation. The regulation goes through another round of public comments before being adopted by the agency. Once the regulations are approved and adopted by the DCC, they become the rules that govern commercial cannabis activity in California.

How do I make my voice heard?

The DCC will typically allow any members of the public to submit a proposal for a period of at least 30 days before adopting a regulation. You can submit any proposed change, including suggestions to simplify or consolidate one or more regulations.

What happens when the DCC begins an enforcement action against a business?

When the Department of Cannabis Control begins an enforcement action against a business, the department may issue a warning or a notice of violation. Warning letters typically identify possible violations and provide the business with an opportunity to take corrective action to avoid formal enforcement action. Suppose the business does not take corrective action. In that case, the Department may issue a Notice of Violation (NOV), which sets forth the details of the alleged violations and may include a proposed penalty. The business then can request an administrative hearing to contest the alleged violation and the proposed penalty.

What is the most important thing to remember if I receive an NOV?

If you receive an NOV, you must respond promptly and make every effort to demonstrate that your business complies with current regulations. If the agency believes your business is not in compliance, it may take further action against you.

What if I fail to correct the alleged deficiencies in a Department of Cannabis Control NOV?

Businesses that fail to make the changes described in the NOV could face immediate administrative action. For example, if an NOV alleges a business was violating a specific regulation by selling adult-use cannabis to individuals under 18, typically, the agency would request the business provide standard operating procedures explaining how cannabis would no longer be sold to minors. The agency normally imposes a 15 days timeline for the business to submit a proposed corrective action plan. If the business still fails to provide a corrective action plan, the matter will, in all likelihood, escalate to the agency’s legal division, where an administrative action will be filed against the business, likely seeking a suspension or revocation of the company’s cannabis license.

Contact our office immediately if you receive an NOV!

Our experienced cannabis business attorneys can help you navigate the DCC’s enforcement process and protect your license. Contact us today for a consultation.