This week, California issued temporary licenses to a handful of cannabis companies in the first wave of licenses expected to be released ahead of Jan. 1.
On Dec. 14, California Bureau of Cannabis Control awarded four dispensaries across the state with the licenses necessary to start selling adult-use cannabis on Jan. 1, when California switches from the nation’s oldest medical marijuana market to a recreational market. These dispensaries can now call themselves among the first in the state who earned the privilege of selling recreational cannabis on New Year’s Day.
The dispensaries include KindPeoples in Santa Cruz, Torrey Holistics in San Diego, Buddy’s Cannabis in San Jose and 530 Cannabis in Shasta Lake. All four of these dispensaries are currently medical dispensaries and all four received both medical and adult-use licenses on Thursday, as the state appears to be prioritizing permitting existing medical outfits over permitting new businesses.
Lori Ajax, chief of the Bureau of Cannabis Control, said that the state plans to issue many more licenses before Jan. 1. In a press release, the bureau stated that more than 1,900 users registered with their online licensing system, and that more than 200 applications have been submitted.
In this first wave of licensing, California issued a total of 20 permits to eight companies, including laboratories, distributors and medical retailers — as well as the four retail dispensaries. The licenses that the dispensaries received will only be valid for 120 days, so these companies will have to move quickly to obtain permanent licenses in the new year.
On Dec. 14, many of the approved cannabis companies received multiple licenses to allow them the capacity for multiple functions or locations. The Santa Cruz dispensary KindPeoples, for example, received licenses to operate two adult-use dispensaries in Santa Cruz County. Between the two dispensaries, KindPeoples obtained six separate adult-use licenses: a microbusiness license, two retailer licenses, a distributor license and two manufacturing licenses.
In a press release, KindPeoples said that their microbusiness license allows them to vertically integrate one of their locations, and that the manufacturing license will allow them to continue producing their in-house brand, KindExtracts.
Khalil Moutawakkil, the director of KindPeoples, said that he is overjoyed about ending cannabis prohibition, which disproportionally punished people of color and filled crowded jails with otherwise law-abiding citizens.
“We are incredibly grateful and honored to be granted the first licenses in the state of California,” Moutawakkil said in a press release. “We look forward to serving every adult on Jan. 1, and we thank the city and county of Santa Cruz, as well as the Bureau of Cannabis Control for their efforts to make this process as streamlined as possible.”
Under the 2016 law that legalized adult use cannabis in California, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, local governments were granted the authority to issue licenses for cultivation, production and sales of cannabis products, so that cannabis businesses in the state must receive both local and state permits. Many local governments, however, have either pushed back against adult-use cannabis or struggled to get their regulatory frameworks agreed upon fast enough.
With the support of Santa Cruz County, who fast-tracked their application earlier this year, KindPeoples says they will be ready to sell cannabis at their Dubois location on New Year’s Day starting at 7 a.m., where they will be giving free t-shirts to their first 420 customers. They are “anticipating record crowds on ‘Legalization Day.’”
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