State Audit Highlights Struggles at the BCC

The Department of Finance has completed a performance audit of the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control and its findings show the BCC’s program is still very much a work in progress. With an 80 percent vacancy rate, the agency is struggling to carry out its mission. More action is needed to strengthen the Bureau’s monitoring and enforcement activities.

“With one headquarters office, one field office, and only 75 of the 219 authorized positions filled, the Bureau has been effective in establishing a structural foundation for implementing and monitoring cannabis regulatory activity through its enforcement programs,” the report said. “However, the current status and location of personnel is not sustainable to provide effective and comprehensive oversight of cannabis activities throughout California. Continuing to fill vacant positions and opening additional field offices will enable the Bureau to strengthen its cannabis regulatory and licensing responsibilities.”

Some of the Bureau’s key vacancies are in its enforcement division. For instance, only 15 out of 68 enforcement positions have been filled as of January. As a result, the agency cannot effectively clamp down on black market activity. Despite 120 investigations and 824 license inspections, the BCC has not taken any formal disciplinary action against cannabis companies so far this year.

The audit also found revenue being outpaced by expenditures. The BCC had expected to bring in $201 million in licensing fees so far this year. Instead, it took in just $2 million. Revenues are expected to increase as more licenses are issued.

The auditors go on to lay out their recommendations for enhancing the department’s performance, which you can read here.

The BCC is one of three cannabis licensing authorities in the state of California. It services retailers, distributors, testing laboratories, microbusinesses, and events. The latest audit did not evaluate any of the other agencies. Because of that, it does not offer a complete picture of enforcement activities, said BCC head Lori Ajax.

The agency is working hard to fill its open positions, she added.

“The biggest takeaway,” Ajax said “is … how much work got done, how we constantly – even though the priorities may have changed and the statute may have changed – we still got the job done.”

Read more at Marijuana Business Daily.


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