What the State’s New Accela Software Means for Cannabis Business Licenses

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act ensured that the State of California would begin issuing cannabis business licenses no later than January 1, 2018. The state is working feverishly to meet this deadline. Nevertheless, it is a massive undertaking which will require the coordination of hundred of employees at dozens of state agencies. These include: the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation within the Department of Consumer Affairs; CalCannabis within the Department of Food and Agriculture; the Office of Medical Cannabis Regulation within the Department of Public Health; and the California Department of Technology.

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While it remains to be seen exactly when cannabis business licenses are issued, the state has taken an important step toward implementing an efficient licensing system. Government Technology reports that the state has selected software from Accela, Inc. to manage licensing for the cannabis industry. State Chief Information Officer Amy Tong says the software was chosen due to a competitive price quote, ease and flexibility of use, and its successful history within the industry and other state licensing entities. While this successful history does bode well for cannabis business licensing, it is, of course, no guarantee of success in meeting the state’s January 1 deadline. 

Tong also notes that the software launch in January 2018 will likely not have full functionality for long-term needs, such as license renewal. Instead, the goal for January 1 is to be able to accept cannabis business applications through a web portal.

What This Means for Cannabis Businesses

While an efficient technology system is an important step toward issuing business licenses, there is no guarantee that state will, indeed, be able to issue business licenses on January 2, 2018. (January 1 is a state holiday.) State Representative Jerry Hill claims there is “a fair amount of skepticism” in the state legislature about whether the state will meet the deadline. The Desert Sun reports that one cannabis attorney does not think business licenses will issue in January 2018 for “a multitude of reasons”. These include the amount of coordination required between Proposition 64 and existing marijuana regulations, and the inevitable lawsuits against the state by organizations objecting to its regulations.

Cannabis business owners should be prepared against the contingency of not immediately receiving a business license on January 2, 2018. Financial reserves and strategic business plans can protect against interrupted operations. Business owners can also prepare now to apply for a state business license in January. Municipal and county permits should be attained in advance, and all supplemental documentation should be assembled and ready to attach to a state business permit application. Applications for state business licenses are expected to be available before the online portal launches in January. Owners should obtain applications as soon as possible to ensure that they are properly completed with all supplemental documentation.

It remains to be seen how soon and how effectively California implements its cannabis business licensing system. An experienced cannabis lawyer can help business owners to design flexible business plans which allow for delays in licensing without interrupted daily operations.

The Los Angeles Cannabis Law Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.

Additional Resources:

California Chooses Accela Software for Cannabis Licensing System, February 3, 2017 by Matt Williams, Government Technology

More Blog Entries:

Preparing the California Cannabis Industry for Recreational Use Regulations, July 9, 2017, by Cannabis Law Group

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