After the November 2016 passage of Prop 64 in California, recreational cannabis sales were slated to become legal by January 2018. In the intervening time, state lawmakers and regulatory agencies scrambled to put together a comprehensive piece of legislation that would help steer the new industry.

To this day, regulations for this new and rapidly growing industry are still in a state of flux. Here’s a snapshot of the evolution and current state of cannabis regulations in California.

New Law, New Regulations

In response to the passage of Prop 64, California legislators enacted the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) in June 2017. The law created a new regulatory body, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), to oversee both medicinal and recreational cannabis in California.

In December 2017, the BCC enacted a set of emergency regulations. These would serve as a placeholder while the BCC worked through the formal process to pass a more permanent set of regulations

In the meantime, the emergency regulations laid out specific licensing and enforcement criteria for commercial cannabis distributors, retailers, cannabis events, and testing laboratories. These regulations were later readopted with some changes in June 2018, representing a second phase for California cannabis regulations.

What Cannabis Regulations Look Like Today

In January 2019, California adopted a new set of regulations for the cannabis industry. The new regulations finally created a more permanent regulatory framework for California, which had become the nation’s largest recreational cannabis market.

So what changed? While many of the provisions from the emergency regulations remained the same, some key provisions were altered. Some examples include:


State regulations require child-resistant packing for cannabis products. However, the burden of responsibility for this particular regulation has been shifting back and forth between retailers and manufacturers. The new set of regulations shifted the responsibility yet again, this time back to retailers until 2020.


This provision has been one of the more controversial items. While municipalities have the right to ban commercial cannabis activity, the new regulations continue to allow cannabis deliveries anywhere within the state.

OSHA training

Licensed cannabis businesses must now meet a new requirement for occupational health and safety training.

Changes to Cannabis Testing Regulations

Regulations for cannabis testing have also undergone an evolution since they first took effect in January 2018.

In addition to the previous testing provisions, the BCC introduced new requirements for the testing of terpenoids, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and water activity in January 2019. While these requirements place a higher standard on cannabis growers and producers, they also increase consumer protection and safety.

The Future Regulatory Landscape

State regulators have taken an active role in guiding California’s growing cannabis industry. However, the industry is still in a state of flux. Regulations are likely to undergo further changes in the future. Encore Labs offers a full suite of compliance cannabis testing to make sure your products meet the most current standards mandated by the state of California.