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California Cannabis Updates

Important DCC and LADCR Licensing News



Since 2010, Manzuri Law cannabis, CBD, and hemp attorneys in California have helped more than 200 businesses procure and/or maintain state and local industry licenses, making important licensing news a priority with our law firm.

Here is the latest on the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation (LADCR) updates.

DCC Provisional Licensing Deadlines

The provisional licensing program in California is sunsetting within the next three years – January 1, 2026. This will be a significant change to the current California cannabis licensing process as licenses will be required to obtain an annual license. As such, current licensees and potential cannabis entrepreneurs need to stay abreast of the following licensing deadlines and ensure they are prepared for this transition.

Below are the key upcoming DCC dates:

  • March 31, 2023 – This is the deadline for ALL local social equity applicants to submit a license application and be considered for a DCC provisional license. (Subject to change based on proposed legislation).
  • June 30, 2023 – This is the last day for the DCC to issue provisional licenses to all local social equity applicants.
  • July 1, 2023 – On this date DCC provisional license renewals become subject to additional regulatory requirements, including submitting documentation showing progress towards CEQA compliance. (More on this below)
  • January 1, 2024 – This is the last day for provisional cultivation licenses to be issued that would result in an operation equivalent to a Type 5, 5A, or 5B license to be in effect.
  • January 1, 2025 – This is the last day for the DCC to renew ANY provisional license type.
  • January 1, 2026 – This is the final day for any DCC provisional license to be in effect. After this date, all licenses in the state of California will need to operate under an Annual license.

California Environmental Quality Act Compliance

As of July 1, 2023, all DCC license renewals must show progress towards compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). (More on this below)

Additionally, all annual license applicants will need to submit CEQA documentation as part of their initial licensing application.

As a reminder, CEQA is a state law passed in 1970 which requires an environmental review of certain proposed projects in the state of California.

The CEQA process aims to:

  • Identify significant environmental impacts
  • Avoid or reduce environmental damage
  • Aid public participation
  • Add transparency to government decisions

Typically, the local government agency acts as the Lead Agency, and DCC acts as the Responsible Agency. If the CEQA local process is discretionary, you will be required to prepare the necessary CEQA documents along with the local permitting application process. For instance, the LADCR now requires all applicants with Temporary Approval to complete DCR LIC-4013-FORM Project Specific Information Form.

The DCC has stated that progress towards compliance with CEQA can be shown through ONE of the following ways:

  • The Lead Agency has prepared and circulated for public review a negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration;
  • The Lead Agency has determined that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is required and has either:
    • Made substantial progress in preparing an EIR, or
    • Has a contract in place for EIR preparation;
  • The Lead Agency certifies that it has conducted a reasonably comprehensive site specific review and deemed complete an initial study, addendum, or checklist to demonstrate the project is consistent with previously circulated and adopted negative declaration, mitigated negative declaration, or EIR;
  • The Lead Agency has reviewed, prepared, and deemed complete a notice of exemption.

LADPH Emblem Program

The Emblem Program for Authorized Cannabis Stores is administered by the County of Los Angeles in partnership with contracted cities. This program is designed to validate and identify for consumers the legally operating stores within each city.

Cannabis operators will be required to have all appropriate licenses from all Government agencies (State and Local) in order to operate under the Emblem Program. Once approved, these Authorized cannabis operators will display a unique emblem on the store premises and will be required to provide health-related information accessible to consumers.

If you do not have a Public Health Permit and Emblem by 2024, you will not be eligible for renewal in the City of Los Angeles and will not be able to operate until you receive the Permit.

There are (3) Phases to obtain the required Permit, initially prioritizing Retail-Store Front licenses.

  • Phase 1: Retail Store-Fronts: Licensees eligible for Phase 1 will receive an email from the DCR advising of their eligibility to apply. This period is open NOW – licensees can make an appointment with the DCR to conduct an inspection as soon as they are ready. 
  • Phase 2: All licensees and Applicants with Local Compliance Underway BY June 30, 2022. All commercial cannabis activities will be included in this round.
  • Phase 3: New Applicants and Applicants with Local Compliance Underway on or AFTER July 1, 2022.

The process of obtaining the Emblem includes a thorough Site Evaluation, whereby Health Department Inspectors will assess a licensee’s compliance with the requirements of the program during their facility inspection.

Per the LAPDH, in order to pass the evaluations you MUST have ALL of the Critical Items present and functioning on the premises at the time of the inspection.

If you do not pass the initial inspection, additional fees will be added, you will be required to submit a corrective plan to the Cannabis Compliance Program and then you will be required to undergo a plan review process, which will delay the permit.

General & Non-Critical items are not necessary to pass the Site Evaluation but these items will need to be corrected before licensees can receive the Emblem Permit.

Employee and Patron Code of Conduct

The DCR now requires all licensees to draft and post both an Employee Code of Conduct and a Patron Code of Conduct. There are minimum standards that must be adhered to within both sets of Codes.

Remember to post the Employee and Patron Code of Conduct on the business premises in a conspicuous place


Important DCC and LADCR Licensing News

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California Cannabis Updates

CBS News Report: Cannabis-legal California battling surging illegal marijuana operations




DISCOVERY BAY – In a state where cannabis is widely legalized, California still has a significant illegal marijuana scene. The state Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is only two years old but is quickly tackling and dismantling these operations.

For Bill Jones of the DCC, it was just another Tuesday as he pulled up to an unsuspecting house in a gated neighborhood. To the untrained eye, one would never guess what was hiding inside.

“It really could be anywhere,” Jones told CBS News Bay Area. “It could be your neighborhood, could be my neighborhood.

CBS News Bay Area was invited on a ride along while DCC officers executed search warrants and seized illegal crops.

Inside four homes in a Discovery Bay neighborhood, officers found illegal cannabis operations.

“We’re going to see anywhere between 3,000 to 5,000 plants,” Jones said. “And we’re talking about a square mile here.”

Jones has been in law enforcement for nearly three decades and the DCC holds a personal significance as he was part of the team tasked with standing the department up in 2021.

“I hired all these officers,” Jones said. “I’m so proud of my people. They work so hard.”

Upon entry into the house, the smell of cannabis fills the space and each room has its own microclimate as those who tended to the crop closely monitored the environment of the plants. But in doing so, the practice created an illegal and hazardous space.

“There’s a really sharp contrast between the illegal cannabis market and the licensed cannabis market,” Jones explained. “The illegal market which in part has criminal organizations like Mexican cartels and Chinese triads and other transnational criminal organizations operating it. They pay no taxes, they have no concerns about how they grow and distribute, they use banned chemicals and pesticides. They take advantage of their employees, sometimes they even engage in human trafficking.”

In the first two stops, officers seized nearly 2,000 plants totaling 1,000 pounds of cannabis.

Read full report

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California Cannabis Updates

Reminder: Deadline Approaching for Equity Applicants




Per Business and Professions Code 26050.2 (a) (3) (D), equity applicants have until March 31, 2023 to submit an application to the Department to be considered for a provisional license.

Due to Cesar Chavez Day, a state holiday, the Department will accept applications for provisional equity licenses until Monday, April 3, 2023.  Applications must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m.

Here is a checklist to assist you with submitting a provisional license application:

  • Review current regulations for application requirements
  • Gather and submit all requirements in accordance with California Code of Regulations section 15002 and 15011
  • Follow the online instructions for how to apply
  • Reach out to your local jurisdiction for authorization
  • Provide CEQA documentation showing proof your environmental review is underway
  • For cultivation licenses, provide a final streambed alteration agreement or documentation from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that meets the requirements of section 15001.1(c)(2) of DCC’s regulations
  • Make sure you are not requesting a license that exceeds one acre of outdoor cultivation, 22,000 square feet of mixed-light or indoor cultivation, or licenses on contiguous premises that exceed these size limitations
  • If paying your application fee by cash, make an appointment to pay before the April 3, 2023 deadline by emailing

If you are a local equity business and have already submitted an application for a provisional license, be sure to check the application portal and your email inbox to ensure all application requirements have been completed.

To learn more about local equity applicant qualifications, please send an email to or visit our website at

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California Cannabis Updates

Media Report: California launches probe of cannabis licensing to ‘clean house’ of corruption




Corruption in California’s cannabis industry has become widespread and brazen.

There have been pay-to-play schemes, including a demand for cash in a brown paper bag for a pot license, threats of violence against local officials, and city council members accepting money from cannabis businesses even as they regulated them.

Those problems and more were uncovered by a sweeping Los Angeles Times investigation last year. Now state officials are launching an audit aimed at curtailing bribery, conflicts of interest and other misdeeds.

The inquiry, requested by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, and authorized Wednesday by the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee, comes more than six years after California voters approved Proposition 64, the ballot measure that legalized recreational cannabis and unleashed a wave of corruption that has afflicted local governments in rural Northern California enclaves and towns like Calexico near the Mexican border.

Other state lawmakers have proposed hearings and reforms following The Times’ “Legal Weed, Broken Promises” investigative series, which also highlighted the failures of public officials to root out the illegal cannabis market and protect the workers toiling and dying on farms.

State auditors plan to identify six jurisdictions with licensed cannabis businesses and review criteria used to approve the permits, reviewing local governments that have been rocked by corruption allegations and others that appear to have fewer such problems.

They’ll be looking for patterns in the licensing rules that indicate whether certain practices are “more susceptible to fraud and abuse,” State Auditor Grant Parks told lawmakers Wednesday. They’ll also be reviewing a “fairly good sample” of cannabis permits to check whether local authorities followed rules they had set, he said.

The findings could form the basis for legislation and new regulations governing licensing, Parks said.

In an interview, Jones-Sawyer hailed the action as a step toward reform.

“If we don’t clean house, nobody else will. I think this will prove to the public that we take corruption very seriously,” said Jones-Sawyer, who declared himself the state’s “cannabis cop” after publication of the Times investigations.

Proposition 64 left ultimate business licensing in the hands of cities and counties. Part-time, often low-paid local elected officials became gatekeepers over decisions worth potentially millions of dollars to business owners in the hyper-competitive cannabis market.

The state’s dual state and local licensing system is widely blamed for creating a fertile ground for corruption. The Times investigation uncovered a possible six-figure bribe demand by the former mayor in Baldwin Park — later corroborated by a federal plea agreement — and other potential conflicts of interest around the state.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Amy Jenkins, representing the California Cannabis Industry Assn., blamed local regulations for the corruption problem, arguing that measures such as license caps allowed municipal leaders to pick winners and losers in the market and open up opportunities for payoffs.

Fewer than half of California’s cities and counties allow some type of cannabis business — retail, cultivation, manufacturing or other types of licenses — to operate within their borders. The audit, Jenkins said, could lead to more “liberal” local regulations that reduce opportunities for payoffs and allow more cannabis businesses to open.

“Legal cannabis has failed and will continue to fail until we are able to fully integrate cannabis into our economy,” she said.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, agreed that there was an “undercurrent of misconduct” in cannabis licensing. He suggested that his own community be among those examined to determine which practices are least likely to lead to corruption.

“Fresno’s now the fifth-largest city in the state of California, it’s the capital city of a significant region of the state. For whatever it’s worth I think the Fresno region ought to be considered part of that,” Patterson said.

Previous attempts by Jones-Sawyer to investigate corruption in the weed industry had been stymied, with lobbyists for local communities arguing against such proposals, calling them politically motivated, he said.

But with the Times series on the failures of Proposition 64, a new committee chair and the latitude to pick which cities to target, Jones-Sawyer said he was finally was able to marshal enough support to get the audit approved.

No one at Wednesday’s hearing opposed the plan.

“Going from, I had to fight just to get it heard to where it’s now a unanimous decision, I think people now understand how important it is to ferret out corruption, even if it’s just one elected official,” he said.


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