Since California has legalized medical and recreational marijuana use, the state has had to build a new industry, including comprehensive regulations and licensing procedures. As licenses are issued for marijuana businesses, there is an expanding gap between lawful and illegal cannabis operations. Farms, processing facilities, and stores that lack the proper license or fail to adhere to one or more regulations can be issued citations by the CA Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).
As a business in the marijuana industry, you have had to quickly learn and implement many regulations. A misunderstanding or a mistake in your processing could place you in violation of one or more regulations, and with that, you could be issued a citation. Before you panic or immediately pay a fine, there are a few things you should know.
When dealing with the BCC and these new enforcement actions, it is best to work with an experienced San Diego marijuana business lawyer. To schedule an initial consultation of your case, contact McElfresh Law at (858) 756-7107.
The Bureau Has a Right of Access
As a marijuana business owner, you should be aware of the BCC’s broad right to access your property. The Bureau and its agents are entitled to full and immediate access to any premises that are or should be licensed by the Bureau. Inspectors do not have to provide notice of their arrival. This gives inspectors ample opportunity to go into marijuana businesses, inspect the premises and goods, and look for violations. You likely cannot argue that an inspector violated your right by coming onto the property.
You May Receive a Notice to Comply First
Following a BCC inspection, you may receive a citation for a violation, which can result in disciplinary action. However, you also could receive a notice to comply first. This notice will be given to you before the inspectors leave the premises or will be mailed to you within 15 calendar days of the inspection.
The notice to comply will describe the nature of any violations the inspectors found and give you 20 calendar days to correct the issues and return the signed notice. If you fail to correct the violations, then the Bureau can take disciplinary action.
Citations Can Call For a Range of Penalties
If you are issued a CA Bureau of Cannabis Control citation, it does not mean the end of your business. Citations can be issued for all types of violations, from relatively minor issues to more serious problems. Because of the range of violations, citations can call for different disciplinary actions. A citation may call for abatement of a certain activity, fines, or probation.
If the citation calls for abatement, you will be given a certain period to stop certain conduct or to correct the violation. If you need more time, talk with a marijuana lawyer right away.
You may be fined up to $5,000, which you will typically be required to pay within 30 calendar days.
You Have the Right to Contest a Citation
A citation by the CA Bureau of Cannabis Control does not have to be the last word on the matter. Within 30 calendar days of being served the citation, you can submit a request for a formal hearing to the BCC in writing. This is an administrative hearing and not a civil or criminal trial. However, you should have an experienced lawyer represent you for your best chance at a successful outcome. If the hearing officer finds you committed the acts described in the citation, you may be fined, placed on probation, get your suspended for a period of time, or face license revocation.
Before you seek a formal hearing with the Bureau, within 15 calendar days of receiving the citation, you can ask, in writing, for an informal conference. Conferences can be used to discuss with the Bureau the acts or failures to act noted in the citation. Following an informal conference, the Bureau has the right to affirm, change, or dismiss the citation. Because of this, an informal conference is often your first step to correcting a misunderstanding and avoiding disciplinary action that could impact your license.
It is essential not to forget to request a formal hearing, even if you request an informal conference. If the citation is modified or affirmed, you may still want to defend yourself and the business at a hearing.
Contact a San Diego Marijuana Business Lawyer Today
If you have been issued a citation against your marijuana business, you should contact an experienced marijuana law attorney as soon as possible. You have the right to ask for an informal conference or formal hearing, but you only have a short time to do so. By hiring a lawyer right away, you ensure you take full advantage of the administrative process in an effort to obtain the best possible results regarding the citation.