California: Eek Another Regulator

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AUTHOR:  “Jordan Zoot.  “aBIZinaBOX Inc., CPA’s

Eek Another Regulator – the nightmare of nightmares I happened upon yet another cannabis regulator in California…I have to admit that this one has me dumbstruck…never knew it was there…and am still trying to figure out where it came from. [I am just waiting for everyone to tell me that they knew about it and I am the only stupid one that didn’t know about it…how could the cannabis industry in California possibly live without another regulator?

Our view is that this is an absolute S**T SHOW…about the very last thing that the cannabis industry in California needs right now. We are posting a short version of the nightmare, and we update as quickly as we can get our hands around this. Its website is HERE.

The agency is called the California Cannabis Authority [yet another “CCA”] and here is the short version:

The California Cannabis Authority is a Joint Powers Authority established by county governments to develop and manage a statewide data platform. The platform will help local governments that are regulating commercial cannabis activity by proving critical and actionable data to increase tax realization, enhance public safety and augment planning capabilities.

The data platform aggregates data from multiple sources including track and trace, point of sale, taxation and socioeconomic data. By combining all of these data points, local governments will be provided with targeted and defensible data, ensuring that what is being reported and what is occurring truly coincide.

The data platform can be used to ensure that adequate tax payments are being made; assist local law enforcement and code enforcement officers with accurate and defensible information for speed of compliance; provide public health officials with product information, including product origin and product flow; and inform community planning efforts by understanding locations, concentrations and potential past or future land use patterns. CCA’s data platform will provide local governments with a number of secure log-in connections to access clear, accurate and real-time data on cannabis activity within their jurisdiction.

The data platform can provide necessary information to financial institutions that wish to work with the cannabis industry. Despite the conflict between state and federal law, it is possible for financial institutions to serve cannabis businesses now, but it is not easy. To accept cannabis customers, financial institutions must comply with the rigorous monitoring and reporting requirements and accept a significant amount of risk. Institutions must make sure cannabis businesses are not violating state laws or engaging in any other illegal activities.

For each cannabis customer, financial institutions must complete special money laundering and suspicious activities reports. These are onerous requirements that demand extensive staff time. Despite Attorney General Sessions’ recent action which rescinded Department of Justice guidance known as the “Cole Memo”, there are roughly 400 financial institutions nationwide that work with cannabis clients.

The burden can be eased if financial institutions are able to obtain detailed information on each cannabis customer, formatted to fit the institution’s regulatory reporting requirements. Financial institutions cite the single most important step California can take to encourage cannabis banking under current state and federal law is to provide them comprehensive licensing and regulatory data on cannabis businesses.

The CCA’s By-Laws can be found here.

CCA currently has six member counties. If you are a business that is regulated by the county of Humboldt, Mendocino, Yolo, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, or Inyo County, you are in CCA’s jurisdiction. Each member county has a different timeline for imposing data sharing requirement.

Yes, I am in a CCA-regulated county.

Your county is a member of CCA and requires all applicants and permitted cannabis businesses to share data directly with CCA. The purpose of a direct connection to CCA is to provide your local regulators with up-to-date information directly from the source to ensure that local compliance and enforcement efforts are directed towards those businesses that are not abiding by the law. CCA is not a tracking service and is not a duplication of the state’s track-and-trace system. Our purpose is to consolidate existing data sources into one platform so that local regulators can verify information from multiple sources, and have a better understanding of the commercial activity taking place within their jurisdiction. To operate in your county, you will need to provide CCA with commercial cannabis data directly through your 3rd Party Software Provider, or manual data submission.

How do I provide CCA with my data? You will need to provide CCA with commercial cannabis data directly – either through your 3rd Party Software Provider using an Application Programming Interface (API) connection, or through weekly manual submissions. For convenience, our connection method is the same process for how your business can transmit data to METRC, the state’s track and trace system – through either an API connection or direct upload.

3rd Party Software Connection – CCA does not require businesses to use any particular software, and we do not endorse specific vendors. As we approve Vendors, CCA will list them on our website.

If you are already using a 3rd Party Software Provider, please make sure they are an approved CCA Vendor, or contact them to let them know you are required to connect with us. CCA will work with all 3rd Party Software System Providers and will work with any interested Vendor to ensure they are approved by CCA. New vendors are being approved on a regular basis. See the list of CCA-approved 3rd Party Software Providers.

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