The State of Cannabis Legislation & Licensing: Washington, Oregon, California

cannabis business licensing in Washington | cannabis business licensing in Oregon | cannabis business licensing in California

The West Coast of the United States has long-established markets for cannabis. However, ebbs and flows in policy and practices are ever constant, even here. To stay on top of the latest laws governing cannabis business licensing in Washington, Oregon and California read on. We’re covering the latest 2023 updates on news and cannabis business licensing in California, Oregon and Washington.

Cannabis Business Licensing in Washington

Employers in Washington State are working to comply with new drug testing practices by January 1, 2024. Senate Bill 5132, which was recently passed, has amended workplace procedures for cannabis use by providing broad safety guidelines for adult cannabis consumption as well as limitations on employment drug testing. In this year’s past legislative session, state lawmakers worked to resolve a “disconnect between prospective employees’ legal activities and employers’ hiring practices,” considering cannabis use comparable to alcohol consumption. SB 5132 identifies that drug tests may report the presence of “non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites from past cannabis use, including up to 30 days in the past, that have no correlation to an applicant’s future job performance.”

SB 5132 also addresses off-duty use by including provisions to protect employees from adverse actions solely based on cannabis usage that occurs outside of work hours that does not impair job performance. Washington employers should be cautious not to discriminate against employees or applicants exclusively based on off-duty consumption. Some exceptions to SB 5132 are:

  • Jobs with federal security clearances or background investigations
  • Law enforcement
  • Fire department
  • First responders
  • Corrections officers
  • Workers in the airline and aerospace industries
  • Safety-sensitive positions where impairment while working presents a “substantial risk of death,” if the employer identifies the position as “safety-sensitive” before the candidate applies for employment

In early November 2023, the Washington State Department of Commerce released a 92-page document recommending how $200 million should be spent to address racial, economic and social disparities created by the war on drugs. “This plan offers a blueprint for how we can begin to reinvest together in the affected communities and families,” Commerce Director Mike Fong said in a statement released with the plan. “Governor Inslee and the Legislature have established Washington state as a leader in beginning to take steps, centered in the community, to mitigate the devastating impacts of historic drug policies and mass incarceration.”

“As the saying goes, the people closest to the issues are the ones best situated to produce the solutions,” said Megan Matthews, director of the Washington Office of Equity.

Current Washington business licensing is open for applications of Transportation and Research.

Oregon Cannabis Business Licensing

Two major cannabis organizations in Oregon have merged into one coalition, which represents more than 500 members. The Oregon Cannabis Association and the Cannabis Industry Alliance of Oregon are now joined as the Cannabis Industry Alliance of Oregon.

Board members in both organizations voted for the change, desiring a united front to combat industry issues such as oversupply, limited demand and plunging prices. A report from February released by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) had predicted a tumultuous year ahead for the nearly decade-old industry. “The overabundance of supply throughout 2021 and 2022 resulted in historically low wholesale and retail prices for both usable marijuana and concentrate/extract products. The declining prices, in combination with a tempering in the growth of quantities purchased, resulted in the first-ever decrease in annual sales (from $1.2 billion in 2021 to $994 million in 2022).”

Cannabis business licensing in Oregon is closed until March 31, 2024 for new Producer, Wholesaler, Retailer and Processor applicants.

California Cannabis Business Licensing

Those in possession of current cannabis business licensing in California, take note. On January 2, 2024, licensees will be required to review, then approve or deny transfers to their facilities prior to creation of the shipping manifest. This amendment in procedure aims to assist with creating accurate manifests and allow licensees to deny unscheduled or inaccurate transfers.

For those interested in applying for California cannabis business licensing, applications for Testing, Distribution, Non-Volatile Manufacturing and Delivery licenses are open. The California Cannabis Track-and-Trace (CCTT) system uses unique identifiers for reporting the movement of cannabis and cannabis products through the licensed commercial distribution chain. All statewide licensees use the CCTT system to provide “seed to sale” tracking. After your license is issued, you have ten days to set up access to CCTT.

The Golden State has also opened applications for the Cannabis Equity Grants Program, the purpose of which is “to advance economic justice for populations and communities impacted by cannabis prohibition and the War on Drugs by providing support to local jurisdictions as they promote equity in California and eliminate barriers to enter the newly regulated cannabis industry for equity program applicants and licensees.” The fund boasts roughly $15 million and applications will be accepted through Dec. 14, 2023.

Learn More About Oregon Cannabis Business Licensing and More at CannaCon!

If you’re in the cannabis industry, interested in entering the cannabis industry or just simply a fan of cannabis, don’t miss CannaCon. CannaCon is the nation’s largest B2B cannabis industry event, held at venues across the nation throughout the year. Come ready to mingle, network, learn and grow in the industry by meeting like-minded, motivated entrepreneurs who are building and shaping the cannabis space.

Ready to check out CannaCon? Get your tickets now. 

This article was originally published on July 30, 2019. It was updated Dec. 12, 2023.

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