The Monterey County District Attorney settled an enforcement action with the Reef, a Seaside cannabis dispensary, for failing to display its state license number on advertisements placed in the local newspaper. The Cannabis Enforcement Division brought the action for this seemingly minor violation after it sent a warning letter to three cannabis businesses that displayed ads in the local paper.
The three cannabis businesses fixed the error in response to the letter. However, the newspaper removed the Reef’s license number when it reworked the ad. The Cannabis Enforcement Division argued that the Reef was still responsible for ensuring that the license number appeared in the advertisement.
Monterey County’s harsh response may signal an increased focus on compliance with local regulations and fight against the black market. Illegal dispensaries may be looking for alternative ways to advertise now that Weedmaps is no longer an option. This case provides a glimpse of what triggers local regulators to investigate whether a cannabis business is part of the black market.
The $5,000 fine may be steep for now. However, the focus on shutting down illegal dispensaries will help Monterey County’s cannabis businesses in the long run.