Alison Malsbury
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california retail cannabis qr code

On Thursday, January 23rd, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) announced new proposed emergency regulations that will make it mandatory for all cannabis businesses to post their unique Quick Response Code (QR Code) in their storefront windows and to carry it with them while transporting or delivering cannabis.

According to the BCC, these new regulations are designed to help consumers identify the licensed cannabis retail store from which they are purchasing, and to help law enforcement and “support the legal cannabis market where products such as vape cartridges are routinely tested to protect public health and safety.” We think much of this is in response to the recent vape crisis, which you can read about here:

Consumers will now be able to use their smartphone cameras to scan each retailer’s QR Code, which will link to the BCC’s Online License Search portal to confirm the status of that retailer’s license. Customers will also be able to view the retailer’s address and license location through the portal in order to ensure that the information displayed is not counterfeit.

BCC Chief Lori Ajax had the following to say about the emergency regulations:

The proposed regulations will help consumers avoid purchasing cannabis goods from unlicensed businesses by providing a simple way to confirm licensure immediately before entering the premises or receiving a delivery. These requirements will also assist law enforcement in distinguishing between legal and illegal transportation of cannabis goods.”

The BCC already launched a campaign to encourage retailers to voluntarily post a QR Code certificate for consumers to scan, but these new regulations will make that mandatory. This week, five business days after last Thursday’s notice, the BCC will file the emergency regulations with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). Once the OAL publishes the regulations on its website as “under review,” that will kick off the five-calendar day public comment period where the proposed regulations will be designated as “under review” on the OAL website. Submit your comments to both the OAL and the BCC.

We view these new regulations as another step by the BCC to curb illegal commercial cannabis activity here in California, where the black market has continued to flourish despite legalization. We’ll be curious to see how consumers respond to and interact with these QR Codes, and if it serves to undermine the black market at all.

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