Illegal California marijuana firms starting to comply with cease-and-desist letters

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Scores of California marijuana companies that received cease-and-desist letters during a crackdown on potentially illegal operations have yanked online advertising or started the licensing process, according to state regulators.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) began sending out the enforcement letters in February to retailers that were breaking the law by serving customers without being properly licensed.

Many of those companies in violation were also advertising online through sites such as Weedmaps.

According to the North Bay Business Journal, BCC chief Lori Ajax said this week during a marijuana business conference in Santa Rosa that “about 22% of the companies we notified pulled their (online) ads and applied for licenses.”

In a follow-up email, agency spokesman Alex Traverso told Marijuana Business Daily that the percentage Ajax was using referred to a point at which about 700 letters had been sent.

That means roughly 150 cease-and-desist letter recipients have:

  • Pulled down their online ads.
  • Shut down operations.
  • Created an online profile on the Bureau of Cannabis Control website.
  • Begun the licensing process.

The BCC has to date sent about 1,800 cease-and-desist letters to cannabis companies, Traverso wrote in the email to MJBizDaily.

Ajax also said the state will likely need to ramp up enforcement against illicit marijuana businesses that continue to buck the new regulatory regime, North Bay Business Journal reported.

“The state needs to be protective of the licensing process and to say, ‘Get a license, or we put them out of business,'” she added.

Weedmaps, meanwhile, drew the ire of the Bureau of Cannabis Control for accepting advertising from unlicensed businesses and essentially refused to comply with a cease-and-desist letter it received from the agency.