California Issues 1,000+ Cease-and-Desist Letters to Unlicensed Cannabis Operators

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has issued more than 1,000 cease-and-desist letters to unlicensed cannabis operators since the recreational use law took effect on Jan. 1, according to a KCET report. It’s the first step in shutting down illegal operators.

According to the report, regulators are using online advertising platforms to find the illegal shops. This likely includes Weedmaps, who were sent their own cease-and-desist by regulators last month due to their advertising of unlicensed retailers.

The BCC is including information on how to obtain licenses along with the cease-and-desist letters, and is issuing temporary licenses, free of charge, which are good for 120 days and can be extended by the agency for additional 90 days.

Licensing fees in California run from $4,000 to $72,000, depending on the size of the operation, but, according to the report, fines can run four times the amount of the license itself.

Aaron Francis, public affairs analyst for the BCC, told KCET that the agency is having “internal discussions” with the agency’s enforcement team “to evaluate the next steps regarding unlicensed activities.”

In their response to the state, Weedmaps said that many of the unlicensed businesses advertising with the platform are protected under the state law until January because they are cannabis cooperatives and the state’s old medical cannabis laws allow such non-profits to operate until the new law’s sunset clause takes effect. It’s unclear how many of the 1,000 businesses targeted by the BCC are considered cooperatives under the old law.

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