“We note at the outset that Weedmaps is a technology company and an interactive computer service which is subject to certain federally preemptive protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and is also not a Licensee subject to the Bureau’s purview pursuant to the Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act or State regulations,” Francis and Beals’ letter states.
“We are concerned that the future for California’s cannabis industry may become even more grim,” the letter continues. “Large Canadian operators with access to public capital markets are raising money and deploying it into the California market to gain market control while native California licensees operate under a regulatory landscape that is so blurry it stifles investment. “
While the BCC’s original cease and desist letter claimed that Weedmaps’ disregard for dispensary licensing was unfair to fully permitted operators who have already jumped through the difficult, costly hoops necessary to operate in the state’s legal market, Weedmaps executives quickly turned the optics back on regulators, painting the state agency as a shill for corporate interests not looking out for the Golden State’s legacy ganjapreneurs.
“In short, the only way to effectively deal with California’s 20-year history of cannabis legalization is to invite incumbent unlicensed operators into the light to be licensed,” Francis and Beals’ letter concludes. “To provide them opportunities to operate a legally compliant business or to be shutdown.
In interviews with two seperate cannabis lawyers, Marijuana Business Daily found conflicting opinions on how the case might be handled in court, with one attorney siding with Weedmaps’ claims that they are outside of the BCC’s purview, and another arguing that “all” commercial cannabis activity is the agency’s business, including Weedmaps’ directory. If Ajax isn’t successful in California, lawyer Omar Figueroa told Marijuana Business Daily, she could always ask the feds to step in – a drastic measure for a state currently considering legislation to block any state agencies from assisting federal authorities in prosecuting legal weed businesses.
“The worst-case could be the feds come in at the behest of the state because just being defiant and refusing to obey California law,” Figueroa said.
For now, the ball is in Ajax and the BCC’s court, but as of press time they had yet to respond to or comment on Weedmaps’ letter.