Last year, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) was formed, consolidating the work of three different Departments under one umbrella to license, inspect, and regulate all cannabis activity in California.
While the DCC directly oversees the inspection of cannabis retailers, their efforts are combined with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to conduct all other environmental and sanitation inspections of commercial cannabis facilities.
The DCC is not statutorily obligated to provide a cannabis operation with any prior notice of an inspection, investigation, review, or audit.
That’s why it is so important to remain compliant with all state and local laws impacting each cannabis license type.
Cannabis industry professionals can better prepare themselves for these pop-in inspections by reviewing the guidance below.
General Requirements for All Licensees
- Background Information: The reviewed information may include the licensee’s contact information, and license ownership detail information to ensure this matches what is on file with the DCC.
- Record Retention: Records must be securely stored, maintained for seven years, and be easily accessible upon request by the inspector. Required records include, but are not limited to, contracts with other licensed cannabis businesses, sales invoices, compliance with environmental protection requirements, track and trace documentation, and employee personnel records.
Department of Cannabis Control Inspection Services for Retailers
The DCC is not statutorily obligated to provide any cannabis operation with prior notice of an inspection, investigation, review, or audit.
That is why is it important to remain compliant with all state and local laws impacting each cannabis business, based on its license type and location.
When DCC inspectors investigate cannabis retailers (including delivery operations) for compliance, they will review:
- Metrc (“Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance”) Operations. Metrc is a web-based, state-mandated software platform that provides end-to-end tracking of the cannabis supply chain, from seed to sale. All Metrc systems must remain updated and current, to ensure the safety and transparency of the cannabis supply chain. Comprehensive Premises Diagram: A premises diagram must clearly identify the premises and all property boundaries, entrances, exits, interior partitions, rooms, windows, doorways and the activities occurring in each area identified. The premises diagram must be in black and white, and drawn to scale.
- Security Measures: Video surveillance recordings must be comprehensive and accessible, and all alarm systems must be working and visually able to capture all areas of the premises. All visitors must be identified and logged upon entering the premises, and limited access areas, where cannabis is stored, must be closed except to authorized personnel.
- Cal/OSHA compliance: In accordance with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”), all employers must meet Cal/OSHA standardized safe workplace requirements in order to maintain an active license status.
In addition to the DCC’s compliance requirements for licensees, local agencies may enforce their own additional inspection standards.
If you have questions about your license, regulations, or compliance requirements based on your type of cannabis business and its location, our California cannabis law firm can help provide real-time legal guidance that provides confidence.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Inspection Services for Cultivators, Processors, and Nurseries
The CDFA Inspection Services Division oversees those premise inspections conducted for cannabis cultivators, processors and nurseries. These inspections may cover specific premise requirements, pesticide use, waste disposal, energy usage, weighing of cannabis flower, and record retention.
When CDFA inspectors investigate cannabis cultivators, processors and/or nursery businesses for compliance, they will review:
Detailed Premises Inspection and Cultivation Plan Review: Investigator will conduct both a physical and visual inspection of the premises to ensure that the license is prominently on display and visible, and ensure there are no on-site safety hazards that would impede employee health and safety.
The CDFA premises inspection will be more in depth than a DCC retail inspection and may include reviewing the Site Plan layout to ensure it aligns with both the property diagram and cultivation plan.
The cultivation plan review may include, but is not limited to:
o Lighting diagrams for indoor and mixed-light licensees.
o Designation of specific areas for flowering plants, immature plants, and harvested cannabis
o Identification of all sources of water supply.
o Assessments, when applicable, of all research and development areas or onsite processing areas.
o Ensuring all packaging and labeling requirements are followed when cannabis is being processed onsite.
- Weighing Requirements: Weighing devices (certified scales) must be approved, registered, tested, and sealed by the County in which they are registered. Weighing devices should be used any time cannabis or cannabis products are bought and/or sold by weight (or count), packaged for sale by weight , or weighed for entry into Metrc, the track and trace system.
- Pesticide Review: Any use of pesticides should align with the pest management plan provided by the licensee upon submission of their cultivation plan. If the licensee’s pest management plan includes purchasing and using pesticides, as opposed to hiring pest control service company, the licensee must first obtain an operator identification number from the agricultural commissioner. It is essential that the licensee store all products in a secure area with proper identification and labels.
- Cannabis Waste: All cultivation licensees are required to have an up-to-date cannabis waste management plan identifying the chosen method(s) for cannabis waste disposal.
- Energy/Power Usage: Indoor and mixed-light licensees must identify all power sources used for lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation. By 2023, additional renewable energy requirements will be implemented for certain licensees requiring them to meet the average electricity greenhouse gas emissions intensity specified by their local utility provider.
- Record Retention: Records must be securely stored, maintained for seven years, and be easily accessible upon request by the inspector. Required records include, but are not limited to, contracts with other licensed cannabis businesses, sales invoices, compliance with environmental protection, track and trace documentation, and personnel records.
If you have questions about CDFA inspections, or are responding to a compliance complaint, contact our experienced cannabis attorneys in California today to understand your next steps to maintain your operations.
When Does the California Department of Health Become Involved in Cannabis Facility Inspections?
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) contracts with cities to issue Public Health permits and conduct environmental health and sanitation inspections of commercial cannabis manufacturing facilities.
The CDPH is involved in all aspects of a cannabis manufacturing premises compliance with regulations.
From inception of the business and to ensure that standardized construction and equipment requirements are met, California cities refer approved premise locations to the CDPH for either a (1) Plan Check of a new facility or (2) a Site Evaluation of an existing facility. Upon completion of a successful Plan Check or Site Evaluation, a Public Health permit is then issued to the business. Public Health Permits for cannabis facilities are valid for 12 months and must be renewed annually.
Once a cannabis facility is licensed, the CDPH is responsible for conducting unannounced inspections and complaint investigations of permitted facilities. The CDPH’s Cannabis Facility Inspection Guide contains a sample of the Cannabis Official Inspection Report (“COIR”) that identifies any observed violations and provides a reinspection date by which the violations must be corrected.
If any violation poses an imminent health hazard, the facility will be immediately shuttered, and the public health permit suspended until that violation is cured.
Contact Our Trusted Cannabis Attorneys in California at Manzuri Law for Help Today
Whether you are starting a new cannabis business or are maintaining an existing operation, contact one of our California cannabis law firm specialists today by phone at (310) 912-2960 or online to ensure your operations are functioning optimally and compliantly before an inspector arrives unannounced.