Cannabis Law

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Governor's Office Designates Cannabis an Essential Business

March 23, 2020

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On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay at home order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians and to establish a consistent approach across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order went into effect on Thursday, March 19, 2020, and is in place until further notice.

The order identifies certain services as essential, including food, prescriptions, and healthcare. These services can continue despite the stay at home order. Because cannabis is an essential medicine for many residents, the Governor clarified his order on March 22, 2020, by declaring that cannabis retailers are an essential business and workers supporting cannabis retail and dietary supplement retail are an essential worker force. In conjunction with the Governor's declaration, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) have issued advisories stating that licensees may continue to operate at this time so long as their operations comply with local 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.

Further, the CDPH’ s advisory states that to continue to ensure the integrity of products, it is important that employees handling cannabis or cannabis products continue to follow good manufacturing practices (GMPs), as required by regulation. GMPs include safe handling practices to prevent contamination, such as washing hands and work surfaces, wearing clean outer clothing, and any precautions necessary to prevent allergen cross-contact or other contamination. CDPH encourages posting the poster below in cannabis manufacturing facilities to highlight these essential routine tasks:

There are no requirements to notify CDPH if one of your employees is subject to quarantine or tests positive for COVID-19. However, CDPH requests that licensees do what they can to limit exposure to other employees, and follow all social distancing and safety instructions provided by your local and state public health departments.



The analysis in this article is limited to current local or state laws and regulations as they relate to the cannabis industry. Readers should note that there is a divergence between Federal law and California’s laws regarding the legality of the production, distribution and sale of cannabis. This article does not address the applicability of Federal law in this area and should not be considered legal advice.

For more information, please contact:

Jonathan Storper

415-995-5040 Direct Phone
415-995-3466 Fax

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