In a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom and BCC chief Lori Ajax on Wednesday morning, the UCBA linked Weedmaps to the recent vaping illness outbreak that has claimed the lives of at least six people across the country and sickened at least 450.
The group called Weedmaps’ announcement “encouraging” but dismissed the company’s new timeline as “vague” and said regulators need to take action immediately.
“Their decision to continue advertising for unlicensed retailers – rather than removing them now – represents a clear public health threat,” UCBA Executive Director Ruben Honig wrote.
The letter stated in part,
"Dear Governor Newsom and Chief Ajax,
"Following years of illegal operations that have propagated the illicit cannabis market and endangered Californians, Weedmaps publicly announced on August 21, 2019 its intention to finally remove illegal, unlicensed retailers from its advertisements in California.
"Now, nearly three weeks have passed and rather than moving to protect Californians by stopping advertisements for the illicit market now, Weedmaps continues to offer vague timelines, like the one it reiterated today.
"Meanwhile, the legislation intended to force its hand – AB 1417 – was shelved. To curtail this illegal activity that is continuing to channel Californians directly into a dangerous and illicit market, the United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA) is respectfully requesting that the state of California moves to enforce laws that are already on the books to finally curb Weedmaps’ advertisement of unlicensed retailers in the here and now.
"The severity of this situation cannot be underscored. We know too well the dangers of the unlicensed and unregulated market. Just last week, after a series of deaths, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally warned consumers to avoid vapes containing THC.
"While still under investigation, all 57 cases so far in California have involved purchases from unlicensed “pop-up” shops.
"This outbreak serves as a tragic reminder of the dangers that the unlicensed industry poses to consumers. Licensed retailers are required to adhere to strict testing mandates that help prevent incidents like this from happening – the reality is, unless you are buying from a legal dispensary there is no guarantee of safety.
"All the while, an audit of Weedmaps’ platform this week showed a total of 3,757 active dispensaries or delivery services in California, only 922 of which have a potential license listed.
"This means, using Weedmaps, Californians are almost 3 times more likely to shop at an unlicensed retailer than a licensed one.
"Based on the current volume of unlicensed accounts active on Weedmaps, if the state were to enforce AB 97, California could levy fines against the platform of up to $85 million per day.
"There’s simply no reason to wait, Californians are in danger."
The full letter can be viewed here: https://ucba.com/2019/09/enforce-ab-97/