The California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) proposed emergency regulations that would require state-run cannabis business to display their unique Quality Response (QR) Code in their store windows to help crackdown on illegal cannabis shops.
The QR code must also be carried with licensed business when transporting or delivering cannabis according to the BCC. The code can be scanned using a smartphone camera, which links to the BCC’s Online License Search and confirms the retailer’s license status. The system also shows the retailer’s address and license location to show that it is real and not counterfeit information.
“The proposed regulations will help consumers avoid purchasing cannabis goods from unlicensed businesses by providing a simple way to confirm licensure immediately before entering the premises or receiving a delivery,” said BCC Chief Lori Ajax. “These requirements will also assist law enforcement in distinguishing between legal and illegal transportation of cannabis goods.”
High taxes have been blamed for California still having a thriving illegal cannabis market despite beginning legalized recreational sales in 2018. An audit by the state last year found nearly 3,000 illegal dispensaries in the state. Arcview and BDS Analytics—two firms that track and analyze sales data in the cannabis industry—estimate the illegal market in California sold $8.7 billion in 2019.
Last year, the state also launched a publicity campaign to encourage consumers to verify their purchases are tested and legal. Advertisements were posted on billboards and social media promoting a website that allowed consumers to check if a shop was licensed or not.
“We believe licensed retailers will benefit from a recognizable emblem distinguishing them as a licensed business in the community,” Ajax said. “We also want to provide consumers with the best information possible so they can determine which licensed California cannabis retailers carry products that are tracked, tested and legal.”