On May 14, 2020, the three California cannabis agencies, the Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Food and Agriculture CalCannabis Division, and Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch announced that licensed cannabis businesses with “licenses expiring between now through June 30, 2020 may request 60-day deferrals of their license fee payments.”

The announcement notes that the fee deferral program is a form of COVID-19 relief, and even notes that although cannabis has been deemed essential by the State of California and cannabis businesses have been allowed to keep operating, those same businesses have not been able to seek federal economic assistance.

With respect to the actual fee deferral, the announcement notes:

The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will begin accepting requests for fee relief immediately. License fee deferrals may be requested by those with a state cannabis license expiring between now and June 30, 2020. With a deferral, the license fee will be due 60 days from the date of the license expiration. Refunds will not be given for fees that have already been paid.

In addition to this financial relief from the state cannabis licensing authorities, cannabis businesses may be eligible for tax assistance offered by the California Department of Tax & Fee Administration, and the Franchise Tax Board. For more information on tax relief and other small business resources, visit the State of California’s COVID-19 Response website.

A licensee who is unable to comply with a licensing requirement due to the pandemic may submit a disaster relief request to their respective licensing authority. To provide immediate assistance to licensees, licensing authorities have been providing relief from certain regulatory provisions unrelated to fees since the time of the first stay-at-home orders.

We are happy to see the state providing economic assistance to cannabis businesses, especially here where license fees can be so high. In fact, back towards the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, I wrote about how the state should extend licenses for certain businesses. Fee deferral isn’t exactly the same but it does provide certain cannabis businesses with assistance during these hectic times. Please stay tuned to the Canna Law Blog for more developments on California cannabis and COVD-19.

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