California Taps Accela for Cannabis Licensing


As state and local governments throughout the US look at legalizing cannabis, new roles for civic tech companies are starting to emerge. Denver, Colorado, and California have both tapped Accela, to handle cannabis licensing and permitting.

Accela, one of the prime movers in the civic startup space, provides an e-government platform for land, permitting, asset, licensing, right-of-way, legislative management, and resource and recreation management processes. Denver and the State of California have tapped the company’s permitting platform to help manage their newly minted cannabis industries.

Since voters approved recreational cannabis in 2016, California Department of Consumer Affairs, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and California Bureau of Cannabis Control, civil servants, and vendors have worked to rapidly standup all of the administrative infrastructure needed to support a new industry. With billions in tax revenue up for grabs, policymakers worked with Accela to provide a licensing and permitting system that would get cannabis companies up and running quickly.

Just a year later, on December 8, 2017, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control began accepting applications from businesses that wanted to operate in the legal cannabis industry next year, and only a week later the state issued 20 temporary licenses.

“As a company, we’ve been able to build on our success in Denver, which first approved cannabis in 2012. We were able to adapt our licensing platform ahead of schedule and other localities have taken notice,” Jeremy Smith, Director-Delivery Alliances at Accela, tells CivSource. Accela now markets a “cannabis solution for government” based on the work it has done in Denver and California. The tool creates new configurations within Accela’s Civic Platform to support the unique licensing and permitting requirements that are usually part of cannabis legislation.

California’s laws, for example, require business licensing and permitting as well as a “track and trace” function for medical marijuana. State officials were skeptical that they would be able to get businesses online within the first year, but the early data looks promising.

Accela for its part is also considering ways of building relationships with the cannabis industry as legalization moves forward in several states. “We’re definitely cognizant of the growing ecosystem of companies and technologies springing up around cannabis. While we plan to remain focused on serving state and local governments our open architecture allows us to work alongside other technologies and industries,” says Smith.