California Cannabis: Past Criminal Conviction Not a Deal Breaker Under Proposed Rules Amendments

On October 16, 2020, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking relating to regulatory changes to the commercial cannabis license application process. The proposed rule changes will affect Title 16, California Code of Regulations, sections 5002, 5017, 5021 and 5600.

These proposed regulations will implement the statutory changes called for in AB 2138, which was signed by the Governor on September 30, 2018. The provisions within AB 2138 became operative on July 1, 2020, and were intended to remove some of the licensing and employment barriers faced by those with prior criminal convictions or disciplinary actions where those individuals can demonstrate rehabilitation. According to the BCC’s press release:

[T]he changes to the statutes prohibit bureaus from requiring applicants for licensure to disclose information or documentation regarding the applicant’s criminal history. Additionally, if a bureau decides to deny an applicant for licensure, the bureau must provide the applicant with notice of the denial, including the reason for the denial, as well as instructions for appealing the decision and the process for receiving a copy of the applicant’s conviction history.

AB 2138 also amends BPC section 480 to prohibit a bureau from denying a

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