Here’s the Executive Summary

I n 1996, California was the frst state in the union to legalize the use of medical cannabis under Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act. California established the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) through Senate Bill 420 (Vasconcellos, 2003) which increased access to medical cannabis for qualifed patients and primary caregivers and provided protections from prosecution for the possession and cultivation of medical cannabis.


Subsequently, the cannabis industry in California experienced a period of rapid expansion along with the emergence of compassionate use programs to meet the needs of chronically ill patients. Nearly 20 years after the passage of the Compassionate Use Act, the California State Legislature in 2015 established the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) through a series of bills – Assembly Bill 243 (Wood), Assembly Bill 266 (Bonta, Cooley, Jones-Sawyer, Lackey, and Wood), and Senate Bill 643 (McGuire) to create a statewide framework to regulate and tax medical cannabis. In November 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64 which enacted the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), permitting adults 21 years of age and over to possess and grow specifed amounts of marijuana for recreational use. In June 2017, the California State Legislature passed budget trailer bill, Senate Bill 94, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) to integrate MCRSA with AUMA into a consolidated system for the regulation, licensing, taxation, and enforcement for both medicinal and adult-use commercial cannabis activities. Under MAUCRSA, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) is the lead agency.


The Bureau is charged with licensing, regulation, and enforcement of the following types of commercial cannabis businesses: distributors, retailers, microbusinesses, temporary cannabis events, and testing laboratories. The Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch, a division of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), is responsible for regulating and licensing manufacturers. CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, a division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), is responsible for licensing cultivators and implementing the Track-and-Trace system. Currently comprised of 22 appointed members from diferent sectors to represent the diverse backgrounds of California and the cannabis industry, the Cannabis Advisory Committee (CAC) is charged with advising the licensing authorities in the development of “standards and regulations… including best practices and guidelines that protect public health and safety while ensuring a regulated environment for commercial cannabis activity that does not impose such barriers so as to perpetuate, rather than reduce and eliminate, the illicit market for cannabis.”1 1 Business and Profession Code section 26014 1


The CAC began its work in November 2017, holding 10 meetings statewide in its inaugural year.

The CAC is charged with publishing an annual report on its activities, including the recommendations the committee made to the licensing authorities and whether those recommendations were implemented. Per legislative mandate, on January 1, 2018, the state began issuing licenses for commercial cannabis activity. Additionally, on January 1, 2018, two new cannabis taxes went into efect: a cultivation tax on all harvested cannabis that enters the commercial market and a 15 percent excise tax on the purchase of cannabis and cannabis products.


At the January 18, 2018 meeting, the CAC voted to establish 10 subcommittees to discuss and develop recommendations for the state cannabis licensing authorities’ regulations on topics within their subcommittee’s issue area.


The subcommittees were designated as follows: Cultivators, Distributors, Enforcement, Equity, Licensing Application, Manufacturers, Microbusiness, Public Health and Youth, Retailers, and Testing Laboratories. Given the substantial scope of its charge and given the ongoing need for further action to address a range of cannabis related issues by the state Legislature and Congress, the committee worked to take a meaningful look at pressing industry challenges and develop recommendations for solutions to the greatest extent possible, consistent with its statutory purpose. We hope this report provides insight into our work within an evolving regulatory environment and serves as a resource to show the range of issues and options to inform the public and policymakers alike. For more information, please visit the Bureau of Cannabis Control website:


The Report