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Disciplinary Guidelines of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control

One last thing about the Bureau’s enforcement powers.

If it files a formal accusation against you, it will look to the disciplinary guidelines that it has adopted to treat like cases alike. The Bureau may deviate from these guidelines in a given case, but it must consider them, and so will your lawyers, the state’s prosecutors, and the administrative law judge.

We’ve organized and summarized them to answer four questions.

What Am I Looking At?

The guidelines recommend three tiers of discipline. The maximum possible punishment is always revocation, but the minimum will depend on which tier you’re in. The fist tier is for violations that are less serious but still potentially harmful, and there is a non-exclusive list of violations you can look up yourself. The minimum for that is a fine, a 5-15 day suspension, or both. The second tier is for violations that involve a greater risk to and disregard for public safety or a serious potential for harm. The minimum punishment is the same except any suspension must be at least 15-30 days. And the third tier is for knowing or willful violations or fraudulent acts. The minimum is the same except any suspension must be at least 45 days. If you have multiple violations that result in more than one term of suspension or probation, the guidelines suggest they run concurrently.

How Much Will I Be Fined?

This depends on your license type, your gross revenues, and a formula that asks how much business you’d lose in a potential suspension. The minimum fine in any disciplinary action is $1,000, but the maximum can range from $224,000 for testing labs to $480,000 for distributors. Between those extremes, the formula provides a starting point. First, it calculates your “average daily sale amount” by taking your gross revenue over the last twelve months and dividing it by the number of days you were open. Then it multiplies half that number by the number of days of suspension you’re facing. The product is your potential fine.

How Will the Judge or Bureau Decide?

In deciding to fine you, suspend you, revoke you, put you on probation, or do some combination of these, the guidelines look at four factors. They actually list a total of twelve factors, but those mainly boil down to four:

  1. The nature and number of your violations and how long it’s been since then;
  2. The actual or potential harm you caused to the public or any consumer;
  3. Your criminal, disciplinary, or administrative record so far; and
  4. Any mitigating evidence, including rehabilitation.

What About Probation?

If the Bureau agrees to probation, the guidelines recommend at least three years, and they require nine standard conditions, including that you report to the Bureau as directed and pay its reasonable costs of enforcement and investigation.

But of course, every case is different.

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