California Confirms New Director of Department of Cannabis Control

california cannabis control

Cannabis has come a long way, from once being a controversial subject to now being a well-accepted remedy for alleviating pain or for recreational purposes. To show their approval and confidence, all of the California State Senate members voted for the confirmation of Nicole Elliot as the Director of the California Department of Cannabis Control (10) or DCC. To support their decision further, the local government representatives, law enforcement unions, labor unions, and cannabis businesses also gave their approval during the hearing of the Senate Rules Committee on the 30th of March, 2022. They have shown their support because they know all about Elliot’s strong leadership and her ability to deal with challenges creatively and proactively. 

The Department of Cannabis Control

The California Department of Cannabis Control (10) could have been officially established earlier if the pandemic didn’t happen. Before the DCC got established, the Bureau of Cannabis Control oversaw all cannabis businesses. The Department of Food and Agriculture oversaw the cultivation of cannabis, while the Department of Public Health oversaw the manufacturing of cannabis products. Today, the DCC has consolidated all of these agencies, making it the main office that holds responsibility for issuing licenses and regulating cannabis activity within the state of California. 

After signing Assembly Bill 141, the DCC was established on the 12th of July. Nicole Elliot was officially appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom as the first director to lead the DCC. Although the pandemic postponed the implementation of the DCC, the approval of Assembly Bill 141 shows the persistent commitment of California lawmakers to move forward by adopting a united approach to cannabis regulation in the state.

With the establishment of the DCC, California can now start the process of reorganizing regulations and licensing to serve its residents better. The department can come up with as much consistency and continuity as possible while transitioning into the DCC. The existing licensing systems will continue their functions as well. Assembly Bill 141, also known as the Cannabis Trailer Bill, has made amendments to the laws of the state needed to establish the DCC, along with some significant changes.

The changes referenced in the law of the state from the 3 state licensing authorities to DCC are the changes in the requirements and timelines associated with provisional licensing. The creation of a Deputy Director of Equity and Inclusion leads to the implementation of the California Cannabis Equity Act while incorporating inclusivity and equity throughout the programs of the DCC. It allows licensees to give some trade samples to the other licensees to market their cannabis products and cannabis after DCC implements regulations to govern these processes. Provides authority to the DCC to utilize emergency regulations to combine the previously adopted regulations by the 3 cannabis programs, then make consistency or clarifying changes. Made it a DCC requirement to share information on its official website starting the 1st of January, 2022. The information should be about license revocations and suspensions, county of license issuance, and final decisions.

New leadership

Nicole Elliott is now the new director of the California Department of Cannabis Control (10). The California State Senate approved her appointment on the 30th of March with unanimous votes from all of the senators. Elliott was first appointed as the interim director by Governor Gavin Newsom in July of 2021. With her as the leader, the DCC got established by consolidating the 3 different organizations. The DCC also received $100 million in grants to support the local governments of the state to transition the licensing structures of cannabis.

The DCC launched a fee waiver program in support of equity businesses. It also proposed reforms that will strengthen and simplify the regulatory framework of cannabis, including the consolidation of all the proposals and regulations that will make significant improvements to the system. It also combined the organizational structure of the 3 programs into a single department and established a transitory and permanent leadership team. It launched CannaConnect, which includes educational resources that help licensees comply with all the rules and regulations.

Secretary of Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, Lourdes Castro, said this about Nicole Elliott, “From day one, Director Elliott hit the ground running, responsibly leading the newly created Department of Cannabis Control, building a strong organizational culture and team, and creating meaningful stakeholder engagement opportunities. With Director Elliott at the helm, California will continue to be a national leader, forging new pathways for innovation and strengthening cannabis regulation.”

Why her?

Director Nicole Elliott is the best choice for the position because of her many qualifications. She served as the Senior Advisor on Cannabis for the Governor. She used to be the Director of the Office of Cannabis for the City and County of San Francisco’s General Services Agency. She held this position from 2017 to 2019, where she was even the Project Manager in the year 2017. She held several positions in the Office of San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee between 2011 and 2017, including a Board Liaison, the Director of Legislative and Government Affairs, and the Director of Appointments and Commission Liaison. She even held several positions in the Office of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom between 2009 and 2010, including Director of Scheduling, Deputy Board Liaison, and Budget Office Policy Assistant.

Since the year 2017 and right before the start of recreational adult-use cannabis sales, Elliott has led the development and implementation of cannabis policies at different levels of California’s local and state governments. Before getting assigned as the DCC Director, she served under Governor Newsom as the Senior Advisor on Cannabis between 2019 and 2021. 

Other members of the DCC

The California Department of Cannabis Control (10) was established on July 12th. It’s a consolidation of the three agencies that oversaw cannabis-related processes and procedures. The establishment of this cannabis department is part of a bigger effort to improve access to cannabis licensure, simplify the regulatory oversight, and support the local cannabis businesses in California. 

Apart from Director Nicole Elliot, there was also a team of individuals who got chosen to serve as members of the leadership team for the DCC. These include Rasha Salama (Chief Deputy Director), Matthew Lee (General Counsel), Melissa Eidson (Administration Division), Richard Parrott (Compliance Division), Eugene Hillsman (Equity & Inclusion Division), and Tamara Colson (Legal Affairs Division).

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