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 following is a list of marijuana legislation and cannabis business licensing in Washington, Oregon, and California, as of January 7, 2020. 

Firsts are ever-present in the cannabis world but a new proposal in California includes furry friends. The bill would allow veterinarians to recommend medical cannabis products for pets, furthering last year’s state regulators recognition of cannabis in veterinary medicine. California was the first state to provide legal protections for vets who talk to pet owners about cannabis use for their animals. While the bill is currently in review with the state’s Veterinary Medical Board if it’s approved or in a neutral stance, the Board will also be responsible for developing guidelines by January 1, 2020. 

A similar bill in New York was introduced but failed, in 2018. An introduced measure in Connecticut would provide similar protections for veterinarians as the current California law, while a Tennessee bill would protect vets from professional discipline for recommending industrial hemp-derived products. Below is a compiled listing of marijuana legislation for humans and cannabis business licensing in Washington, Oregon, and California, as of July 2020.

Cannabis Business Licensing in Washington

Cannabis is legal for medical purposes in Washington, and for recreational use by those who are 21 years of age and older. CBD is also legal. On December 6, 2012, Washington became the first U.S. state to legalize recreational use of marijuana. The state had previously legalized medical marijuana in 1998. In May 2019, two laws passed to improve the state’s medical cannabis program. One allows student patients who qualify for medical cannabis and who are registered on the Marijuana Authorization Database to be administered cannabis products at school. The second allows patients to renew their annual qualification using telemedicine technology if a medical professional determines an in-person physical examination would be harmful. Also recently passed in Washington was a bill to expunge nearly 69,000 misdemeanor cannabis convictions. Companion bills SB 5155 and HB 1131 were introduced in January to allow for residential cannabis agriculture; these bills are currently in committee.

Applications are open for a Transportation License ($250 fee), a Marijuana Research License ($250 fee), and a Cooperatives Registration (no fee). Applications are closed for producers, processors, and retailers at this time; previous application fees were $250, with an annual fee of $1480 for issuance and renewal. No more than three licenses are allowed per one entity and/or principals within an entity.

Cannabis Business Licensing in Oregon

Cannabis is legal for medical purposes, and recreational use for those who are 21 years of age and older. CBD is also legal. Oregon was the first U.S. state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, and among the first to authorize its use for medical purposes. A measure passed this year to ease the process of expunging low-level cannabis crimes by removing all associated fees, and lowering the identification requirement thresholds. Also included is the removal of the requirement of fingerprinting and undergoing background checks for expunging cannabis-related records. Congressional legislation is also in the works to allow exporting cannabis between states with legal marijuana programs. The state of Oregon approved a law allowing export, the next hurdle is to remove the federal government’s ban on interstate shipment of marijuana.

Applications are open. Producer, processor, retailer, and wholesaler application fee is $250. However, in June, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill into law which enables state regulators to deny new cultivation licenses for two years. This is an effort to curb a cannabis overabundance (reported over 6 years’ worth) which has led to state price crashes and illicit market sales. Senate Bill 218 specifically gives the Oregon Liquor Control Commission authority to refuse grower licenses issuance for as much time “the commission determines necessary” based on supply and demand.

Cannabis Business Licensing in California

Cannabis is legal for medical purposes, and recreational use for those who are 21 years of age and older. CBD is also legal. California was the first state to legalize medical cannabis. Below are some of the most current bills recently approved or under review.

Assembly Bill 1529: changes a current requirement for universal symbols on marijuana vaporizer cartridges, shrinking the mandated symbol size from a half-inch by half-inch to a quarter-inch by quarter-inch. Approved by the Governor on October 12, 2019.

Assembly Bill 228: allows for hemp-infused food/beverages and enables them to be sold by licensed marijuana retailers. It is pending review by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Assembly Bill 1417: regulates online platforms which advertise for unlicensed marijuana businesses by implementing a $2,500-a-day fine per violation for any site that posts such ads without a corresponding state license number. It is pending review by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 51: establishes a new but limited banking system in the state for marijuana companies. It is pending Assembly Floor Analysis.

Senate Bill 475: allows marijuana product samples to be shared free of charge between licensed companies and employees but not to the public. It is awaiting an Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing.

Applications are open. A bond of $5,000 must be submitted for each license application. There are 14 types of cultivation licenses, four types of manufacturer licenses, and two types of retailer licenses including Non-Storefront Retailer for those who sell and deliver cannabis goods to customers and Retailer for those who sell cannabis goods to customers at its premises or by delivery. Licenses also exist for distributors and microbusinesses. Additionally, applicants must apply for a license with their local city as well as the state. 

The California Legislature passed a bill in summer 2019 which extends the life span of provisional business licenses for cannabis companies until 2022. Provisional licenses were created by the Legislature in 2018 as a stopgap measure for marijuana businesses encountering lengthy lag times in the awarding of full annual business permits. Amendment was needed, however, as the temporary licenses began expiring and threatened to delay the legal supply chain.

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