California looting spurs regulators to remove online cannabis licensing info

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(This story has been updated to reflect that the California Department of Food and Agriculture removed its cannabis data base from public view at the request of  industry stakeholders.)

In response to recent looting of California cannabis retailers, at least two of the three agencies that oversee the state’s marijuana industry have removed from public view their online databases containing business information.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) confirmed to Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday that they had disabled the licensing databases from their websites at the urging of industry members who had been robbed over the weekend during protests over George Floyd’s death in Minnesota.

The move follows a letter from the California Cannabis Industry Association to BCC Chief Lori Ajax on May 31, in which the trade organization asked that all physical addresses of MJ companies be removed from the web because they’d been targeted by looters.

The BCC’s cannabis license site typically is searchable for any member of the public who wants to look up names and addresses and other information for state-legal marijuana companies, including retailers, delivery services, microbusinesses, distributors and testing labs.

“Nothing is working for the public right now. The whole search function has been taken down,” BCC spokesman Alex Traverso said. “This was a change made based on requests from businesses that were burglarized over the weekend.”

Similar databases have long been maintained by the CDFA, which oversees cannabis farmers, and the Department of Public Health (CDPH), which oversees manufacturers.

The CDFA’s database also was disabled the “request of cannabis stakeholders,” spokeswoman Rebecca Foree confirmed to MJBizDaily in an email.

“In consideration of cannabis businesses experiencing increased burglaries over the past few days, the CDFA turned off the online license search function on the (agency’s) website until further notice,” Foree wrote.

“We believe this action will help protect our licensees during this difficult time.”

The CDPH’s database is still functioning but contains limited information and does not display licensee addresses.

The BCC’s change went into effect on Sunday, Traverso said, adding that no decision has been made about when the database will be restored.

The CDFA’s database was disabled on Tuesday, Foree said.

– John Schroyer