California expediting cannabis business licenses for refugees

By KAREN VELIE

As part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to support diversity, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control is expediting marijuana business licenses for refugees and asylum seekers, while some citizens spend years navigating the bureaucratic system.

Signed by Newsom on Sept. 27, 2020, AB 2113 requires state agencies to expedite and provide extra assistance to business license applicants with evidence they are a refugee, have been granted asylum or have a special immigrant visa. Prior laws prohibited state agencies from discriminating based on immigration status, but did not provide special status.

“California is a greater and more vibrant place because of our immigrant and refugee communities,” Newsom said. “I thank the Legislature for advancing these policies to support our fellow Californians, no matter where they were born.”

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Cannabis Control reached out to applicants for marijuana grows, pot shops and manufacturing facilities to let them know, that as of Jan. 1, refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants may seek an expedited licensure process.

“In order to receive the expedited licensure process, individuals must provide documentation of their refugee, asylee, or special immigrant visa status when submitting their application package,” the notice said. “Please note that this does not mean a license must be issued, but simply that the process will be expedited.”

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