Weedmaps has responded to a cease-and-desist letter sent by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) last week.
As we reported, the BCC sent approximately 900 letters to dispensaries operating without a state license. They also sent a letter to Weedmaps threatening possible criminal and civil penalties if they do not remove advertisements from unlicensed shops.
Weedmaps has issued a letter of their own to the BCC.
“We note at the outset that Weedmaps is a technology company and an interactive computer service which is subject to certain federally preemptive protections of the Communications Decency Act and is also not a Licensee subject to the Bureau’s purview pursuant to MAUCRSA or State regulations. Nonetheless, as a technology company that has serviced this industry for a decade and as a company which employs almost 300 California residents, we wish to work together as a partner with California to find a solution to the concerns you raise.”
It is unclear what the next move for the BCC is.
“At this time, we are reviewing the letter and determining the appropriate next steps,” Alex Traverso, Chief of Communications at the BCC, told mg.
The Consumer Choice Center, an advocacy group that pushes to expand consumer options, came out against the BCC’s decision.
“It is important to realize that advertising and branding are essential tools for consumer awareness, and for consumers to make informed decisions when buying cannabis. Attacking dispensaries is a blow to consumer choice, while over-regulating advertising significantly limits consumer knowledge, and ultimately consumer safety.” said David Clement, North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center.
Weedmaps president, Chris Beals, was surprised the BCC was targeting his company.
“We were under the impression that the bureau would focus on getting people licensed before they moved on toward attempting enforcement,” he said according to the LA Times.
Weedmaps has been the most recognized source for dispensary listings over the past decade, though Google and Yelp also list information for unlicensed shops.
Beals does not feel that the BCC has failed to license enough dispensaries to meet the demand of the newly legal recreational use market.
“It’s almost a complete failure of county and local governments to enact any sort of legalization to provide pathways for licensed businesses,” Beals said.
In the letter, Weedmaps claimed they are willing to work with the BCC to resolve the issue.
“We have enjoyed working with you, Chief Ajax, and look forward to continuing that collaboration in the years to come as California seeks to cement its position as the nation’s leader in cannabis policy.”