The introduction of California’s legal, adult-use cannabis market came with its own set of rules and regulations. Some of the people who are involved in the fledgling cannabis marketplace are finding out the hard way about what activities and business practices are legal and what are not. State regulators are going after unregulated delivery services, sellers, online advertisers, and others, many of whom do not know what’s legal and what isn’t.
For example, Weedmaps is a well-known online dispensary advertiser. It recently got a cease-and-desist letter from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (CBCC), alleging that the company violated the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MACURSA) multiple times when it advertised cannabis businesses that did not have state-issued commercial cannabis license numbers. The CBCC considers the act of promoting unlicensed companies to be aiding and abetting violations of the law.
The CBCC also used online advertisers like Leafly and Weedmaps to find unlicensed cannabis businesses so that they could send each company a cease-and-desist letter notifying them of their violations of the new cannabis laws. The letters warn the recipients that they may incur civil and criminal penalties for each violation they commit.
Before the legalization of the adult-use cannabis market, many successful cannabis businesses operated under the state’s medical marijuana program. The medical marijuana program did not have strict regulations, and as of 2004, virtually all cannabis businesses could legally operate as medical cooperatives without state licenses under SB420. With the advent of legal adult-use cannabis, MACURSA came into effect, and it is much stricter than the medical marijuana regulations. Existing medical marijuana cooperatives have until next January to comply with the new laws regarding licensing, advertisement, taxation, and the like, but new cannabis businesses are expected to comply with all applicable regulations immediately.
If you are in the business of cannabis, it is to your advantage to understand the laws that apply to your business activities. Whether you have a new business or an existing one, it is crucial that you know what laws apply to you so that you do not get charged with a crime or incur a penalty. Criminal or civil charges could pose a threat to you and your business, and you can avoid them if you understand the requirements of the law.
Fortunately, it is possible for you to learn what the law requires of you and bring your business into compliance with it, hopefully before you get charged with a violation of the law. Whether you’ve already gotten charged with a violation or you are looking to make sure you don’t get charged, an Orange County criminal defense attorney can help you understand the rules that apply to you. If you already got charged with a violation, your attorney can help you understand your options for defending yourself and your business. With the new widespread economy related to marijuana, many a local business law attorney may be able to assist in setting up and compliance. It may be worthwhile to start with sound legal advice to avoid any potential consequences.