Changing Cannabis Business Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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As most are aware, in California cannabis has been deemed an essential medicine and therefore, cannabis licensees may continue to operate notwithstanding statewide stay at home orders so long as such operations comply with local and state rules and regulations. Any licensee that continues to operate must adopt social distancing and anti-congregating measures and must follow the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease at all times.

In this new and ever changing world of COVID-19, many cannabis retailers are looking into novel ways to encourage and practice social distancing with their customers. Whether it be by offering curbside pickup or delivering to people outside of physical locations, cannabis retailers are taking social distancing very seriously. While social distancing is absolutely necessary during this time, cannabis retailers should not act in any way that is contrary to the Bureau’s regulations without first obtaining approval from the Bureau to do so. 

How Bureau of Cannabis Control Licensees Can Request Disaster Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to Governor Newsom’s emergency declaration regarding COVID-19, Bureau licensees who are unable to comply with specific regulatory requirements or would like to alter their operations in a way that does not comply with BCC regulations, must request relief from specific licensing requirements pursuant to Section 5038 of the Bureau’s regulations before doing so. 

Requests for disaster relief should be submitted using the Notification and Request Form, (BCC-LIC-027). The form should be submitted by either the primary contact for the license or an Owner of the licensee. Requests should include the licensee’s name, the license number, the specific regulatory requirements the licensee is seeking relief for, why the relief is needed, and a detailed description of how the licensee plans to conduct their operations if the relief is granted. Once complete, the form can be submitted via email to

Per the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s COVID-19 website, requests for disaster relief will be reviewed by the Bureau’s staff in a timely manner and responses to requests received will be provided via email. Temporary relief for specific licensing requirements may be issued for a specified amount of time and the Bureau may require that certain conditions be followed for the relief to be granted.

Essentially, the Bureau of Cannabis Control is giving licensees the opportunity to ask for permission to deviate from the regulations in the name of keeping everyone safe. Thus, if you are a licensee and you are thinking of offering things like curbside pickup or altered delivery methods in order to ensure customers and employees are safe, fill out the Notification and Request Form, ask the BCC to allow you to conduct altered sales practices (be specific about what you want to do), and wait for approval from the BCC before changing things up in a way that may violate BCC regulations. 

While you wait for approval from the BCC, you can work with the local government to ensure your plan is acceptable on the local side and implement the CDC’s guidance for all sales and operations still occurring on site.

If you have any questions about the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s operational guidance during this time, please contact or call Rogoway Law Group at 707-526-0420 to speak with one of our attorneys. You can also find information from each of the cannabis licensing authorities using the links below.

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