The coronavirus has further derailed systemic reforms to the California regulatory agencies that oversee the state’s marijuana industry under a revised state budget plan.
In the budget proposal released Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that his previously announced goals – merging the state’s three regulatory agencies and streamlining marijuana tax collections – would have to be put off until next year because of complications stemming from the coronavirus.
During his January announcement, the governor did not release specific details of his proposals except to unveil the name of a proposed combined regulatory agency – the Department of Cannabis Control.
And Thursday, the newly revised budget summary made clear the governor’s plans won’t happen until 2021 at the earliest.
According to the summary, Newsom’s administration:
- “Was in the process of developing a more detailed plan … for the transition (from three cannabis regulatory agencies to one). However, this process was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring a delay in the consolidation as planned.” The summary promises that a specific consolidation plan will be included in the 2021-2022 state budget.
- “Remains committed to simplifying and improving cannabis tax administration and will work with stakeholders on a proposal for inclusion in the budget next year.”
The revised budget summary also stipulated that marijuana regulators will receive a total of $143.8 million in funding:
- $68.2 million for the Bureau of Cannabis Control.
- $20.8 million for the Department of Public Health.
- $54.8 million for the Department of Food and Agriculture.
The funds are intended to be used for ongoing licensing and enforcement by the agencies as well as to “shift sworn investigators from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Investigations to” the Bureau of Cannabis Control, which is a wing of the DCA.