The agency overseeing California’s legal marijuana market has been overmatched by the job and is struggling to hire sufficient staff and set an overall strategy for the nation’s largest cannabis economy, an audit found.
About two-thirds of the 219 staff positions authorized for the Bureau of Cannabis Control remain unfilled, according to an audit by the state Finance Department. A shortage of staff in the enforcement unit is hindering the agency’s ability to conduct investigations.
While the cannabis bureau is in its relative infancy and has established a foundation to oversee the market, “the current status and location of personnel is not sustainable to provide effective and comprehensive oversight of cannabis activities throughout California,” according to the audit, which was released earlier this month.
The problems outlined in the audit provide a backstory to the uneven rollout of the state’s legal pot market, which kicked off sales on Jan. 1, 2018. By just about any measure, California’s effort to transform its longstanding illegal and medicinal marijuana markets into a unified, multibillion-dollar industry remains a work in progress.
Legal shops must compete with thriving underground sales, and companies say hefty tax rates make it hard to lure customers. A promised state tax windfall has yet to arrive, and licensing has been slow and problematic.
While legal cannabis is being sold around California, it’s unavailable in many areas because local governments have banned sales or not set up rules for the market to operate. A legal fight is underway over home deliveries into communities that have banned commercial pot sales.
Published: July 17, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News