Bureau’s Proposed Emergency Cannabis Regulations Make QR Code Certificates Mandatory

In response to the recent cases of Vaping-Associated Pulmonary Injury in California (a.k.a “Vapegate”), the Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) has proposed emergency cannabis regulations in an effort to help consumers identify fraudulent cannabis retailers selling unregulated and potentially dangerous cannabis products.

Under these regulations proposed on January 23, 2020, all cannabis retail businesses will be required to post their unique Quick Response Code (QR Code) certificate in storefront windows.

(b) Upon issuance of any license, a retailer, whose licensed premises is open to the public, shall prominently display the Quick Response Code (QR Code) certificate issued by the Bureau so that it can be viewed and scanned from outside of the licensed premises.

§ 5039 (b). License Posting Requirement. Text of Proposed Emergency Regulations (QR Code) 

Under Section 5039 of the Bureau’s current regulations, all licensees are already required to “prominently display the license on the licensed licensees where it can be viewed by state and local agencies.” For retail outlets open to the public, the Bureau also requires the license to be displayed within plain sight.

Upon issuance of any license, the licensee shall prominently display the license on the licensed premises where it can be viewed by state and local agencies. If the licensed premises is open to the public, the license shall be displayed in an area that is within plain sight of the public. 

§ 5039. License Posting Requirement. Bureau of Cannabis Control – Text of Regulations (Order of Adoption) 

These new regulations, in addition to requiring retail outlets to display the QR Code Certificate outside storefronts, would also require cannabis retailers and distributors to carry the QR Code Certificate while transporting or delivering cannabis.

While assisting customers in identifying legal retail dispensaries, this effort by the Bureau also seeks to assist California law enforcement as they crack down on the thriving illegal market in our state.

Both consumers and law enforcement will be able scan the QR Code on these certificates and automatically verify licensure through the Bureau’s Online License Search by using a smartphone camera. In addition to confirming the cannabis retailer’s license status, the system will also display the retailer’s specific business location.

Displaying the QR Code Certificate

To ensure visibility to all consumers entering a licensed cannabis establishment, the Bureau requires cannabis retail stores to display the QR Code Certificate on the front window or in a locked display mounted on an outside wall. The licensee’s QR Code Certificate should also be within three feet of a public entrance to the licensed cannabis outlet.

(c) The QR Code certificate displayed by a licensee as required by subsection (b) shall be posted in the front window of the licensed premises within three (3) feet of any public entrance to the licensed premises, or in a locked display case mounted on the outside wall of the licensed premises within three (3) feet of any public entrance to the licensed premises. The QR Code certificate shall be posted in a manner that is clearly visible from outside of the licensed premises to the public and all persons entering the premises. 

§ 5039 (c). License Posting Requirement. Text of Proposed Emergency Regulations (QR Code) 

The Bureau also specifies exact size and resolution requirements of the QR Code certificate that must be displayed by the cannabis retail licensees:

(1) The QR Code certificate shall be printed on paper not less than 8 ½ inches by 11 inches.

(2) The QR Code on the certificate posted as required by this section shall not be less than 3.75 inches by 3.75 inches.

(3) The QR Code on the certificate shall be of sufficient clarity that the code can be read by a smartphone or device capable of reading QR Codes from a distance of at least three (3) feet.

§ 5039 (d). License Posting Requirement. Text of Proposed Emergency Regulations (QR Code)

Requirements for Licensed Cannabis Distributors

In addition to the other pre-existing requirements of cannabis distributors, the proposed emergency regulations would require distributors to carry a copy of the license as well as a copy of the QR Code Certificate while transporting cannabis goods between licensees or licensed premises. This ability to verify licensure will empower law enforcement to distinguish between legal and illegal transportation of cannabis goods.

(c) A licensed distributor employee shall always carry a copy of the distributor’s license and a copy of the QR Code certificate issued by the Bureau while engaging in the transportation of cannabis goods. The QR Code certificate shall comply with the requirements of section 5039, subsection (d) of this division.

§ 5311. Requirements for the Transportation of Cannabis Goods. Text of Proposed Emergency Regulations (QR Code)

Requirements for Non-Storefront Cannabis Retailers

Similar to cannabis distributors, the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s proposed emergency cannabis regulations would require delivery employees to carry a copy of the retailer’s current license, QR Code Certificate, and their employee identification badge. Delivery employees must provide these items to customers upon request, empowering customers to verify licensure and avoid counterfeit and potentially dangerous cannabis goods.

(e) A delivery employee of a licensed retailer shall, during deliveries, carry a copy of the retailer’s current license, a copy of the QR Code certificate issued by the Bureau which complies with section 5039, subsection (d) of this division, the employee’s government-issued identification, and an identification badge provided by the employer pursuant to section 5043 of this division. A delivery employee shall provide a copy of the retail license, a copy of the QR Code certificate, and their employee identification badge to a delivery customer upon request. 

§ 5415. Delivery Employees. Text of Proposed Emergency Regulations (QR Code)

What’s Next For the Bureau’s Proposed Emergency Cannabis Regulations?

Following the required minimum five-working day notice to the public, the Bureau of Cannabis Control will file the emergency regulations with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The five-calendar day formal public comment period begins when OAL publishes the proposed regulations as being “under review” on its website. To be considered, public comments must be submitted to both OAL and the Bureau of Cannabis Control.

If you have any questions about these new proposed regulations by the Bureau of Cannabis Control, please contact the cannabis compliance attorneys at Rogoway Law Group.

[QR Code Certificate Requirement Update] February 3, 2020 – Public Comment Period Commences

The Bureau announced today, on February 3, 2020, that it has submitted the proposed emergency cannabis regulations to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). Now that the OAL has published the proposed regulations as being “under review” on its website, the five-calendar day formal public comment period has officially started.

[QR Code Certificate Requirement Update] February 13, 2020

The Bureau has announced approval of the Quick Response Code (QR Code) certificate requirements and has released the final amended regulations. This approval will amend Sections 5039, 5311, and 5415 of the Bureau’s Regulations and is effective immediately.

The final amendments reflect additional language in Section 5039 authorizing that the QR Code certificate may be printed on mediums other than paper, such as glass, metal or other material not less than 8 ½ inches by 11 inches. 

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