On July 12, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom approved Assembly Bill No. 141 (AB-141), an act amending, adding, and repealing various sections of the State’s legal codes to implement provisions of the Budget Act of 2021.

The bill’s most notable updates to existing law include explaining the function of the new Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), setting state provisional license sunset guidelines, and establishing a cannabis trade sample scheme, among other changes.  While there is surely more to come in the way of implementation, the following provides the first in a series of snapshots of changes expressed in the final version of the bill, this week focusing on the DCC.  The information presented comes from California Legislative Information.

Department of Cannabis Control (DCC)

  • AB-141 establishes the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) in the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency.  DCC assumes the powers, duties, purposes, functions, responsibilities, and jurisdiction of the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA), and State Department of Public Health (SDPH) under MAUCRSA, unless otherwise specified.
  • DCC must be supervised and controlled by a Director. On July 12, 2021, Nicole Elliott was appointed by the Governor as Director of DCC. 
  • DCC’s website must include information about the status of every DCC-issued license, including licensees’ address-of-record counties.  As of January 1, 2022, this information must include information on license suspensions and revocations, as well as final DCC decisions.  AB-141 prohibits sharing personal identifying information, including home addresses, home telephone numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers.
  • Except in state and federal court proceedings, AB-141 exempts DCC from the existing requirement that certain California agencies obtain the Attorney General’s written consent before (a) employing legal counsel to represent those agencies in certain judicial or administrative adjudicative proceedings or (b) contracting with outside counsel.
  • AB-141 adds DCC to the list of entities to which an unsafe handgun may be sold if the unsafe handgun is to be used as a service weapon by a peace officer.
  • BCC, CDFA, CDPH, and DCC may obtain criminal history information from the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation for an applicant for any California state commercial cannabis license.  These state agencies may request and receive from local or state agencies certified records of all arrests and convictions, certified records about probation, and any and all other related documentation needed to complete applicant or licensee investigations.  Local or state agencies may provide those records to those state agencies upon request.  AB-141 authorizes those state agencies’ employees acting on DCC’s behalf to receive applicants’ criminal history information until July 1, 2022.
  • DCC may institute or continue proceedings against applicants who have withdrawn applications after filing with DCC, for the denial of licenses on any ground provided by law or to enter an order denying licenses on any ground.
  • DCC may institute or continue disciplinary proceedings against persons whose licenses have been suspended, forfeited, or canceled by order of DCC or a court of law, or have been surrendered without DCC’s written consent, on any ground provided by law or to enter an order suspending or revoking licenses or otherwise taking disciplinary action against licensees on any such ground.
  • A licensing authority agent may possess, transport, or obtain cannabis or cannabis products as necessary to conduct activities reasonably related to the licensing authority’s duties.

By: Patrick Babajanian, August 5, 2021

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