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California Cannabis Industry Association Issues Safety and Security Alert in Response To Protests

On May 31, 2020 the California Cannabis Industry Association (“CCIA”) issued a safety and security alert to its members regarding violence and burglaries targeting cannabis businesses during protests sweeping the nation after the death of George Floyd. In connection with these incidents, the CCIA requested that regulators remove all cannabis business location information from state websites to protect the safety and security of businesses and their employees.

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis. His death sparked protests across the country, including several in California. Unfortunately, the unrest resulted in looting and property damage at some locations, and cannabis businesses were not spared. Specifically, there are reports of burglaries at cannabis businesses in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento, Vallejo, and Los Angeles. While many of these incidents may be spontaneous crimes of opportunity, CCIA’s Alert warns that several appeared to be “well-coordinated” by criminals looking to take advantage of the chaos stemming from the protests. Cannabis businesses make particularly attractive targets for criminals due to the fact that they are cash-heavy businesses and cannabis products are in high demand, will be relatively easy to sell, and can be difficult to trace once they are repackaged.

The CCIA recommends that cannabis businesses take the following precautions in order to protect their employees and inventory:

  • Limiting operating hours, especially at night

  • Limiting delivery operations

  • Increasing security coverage

  • Minimizing cash and inventory on hand if possible.

As a reminder, pursuant to the Disaster Relief section of California’s cannabis regulations, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”) has the discretion to provide temporary relief from licensing requirements when a licensee is unable to comply with said requirements due to a disaster, upon request by the licensee. (16 Cal Code of Regulations § 5038.) The term “disaster” is defined as a “condition of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within the state or a county, city and county, or city. . .” caused by certain kinds of conditions, which specifically include “riots.” (16 Cal. Code of Regulations § 5038(f).) Furthermore, the section specifically allows a licensee to move cannabis goods stored on a licensed premises in order to prevent loss, theft, or degradation of the goods due to the disaster without prior approval by the BCC if: (1) the inventory is moved to a secure location where access can be restricted to approved individuals; (2) the licensee notifies the BCC in writing using a notification and request for relief form within 24 hours; (3) the licensee grants the BCC access to the new location; and (4) the licensee submits a notification and request for temporary relief from any licensing requirements impacted by the move within 14 calendar days. (16 Cal. Code of Regulations § 5038(h).)

Businesses located in areas that are currently affected by the ongoing civil unrest should evaluate whether it is in their best interest to move their inventory to avoid loss and should consult with an attorney to ensure compliance with applicable regulations. The experienced cannabis law attorneys at Huguenin Kahn are available to assist cannabis businesses in these trying and unprecedented times.

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