California's Marijuana Regulation Agency Has A New Name

Aug 8, 2017

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio / File

California's lead agency for marijuana regulation has gone by many names. The Bureau of Cannabis Control is the latest. The change reflects a wider trend away from the term "marijuana" in favor of "cannabis."

State agencies don't choose their own names. In the case of "The Bureau" as its known in some Sacramento circles, successive waves of legislation and a ballot measure tweaked the name to fit the agency's changing role.

That's because industry groups and state regulators favor the term "cannabis" over "marijuana," which carries too much negative baggage.

Amanda Horowitz is co-founder of CannaRegs, a database of state and local pot laws. She sees the trend on a daily basis.

"It's not just a California thing," Horowitz says. "It's nationally — especially in the regulated states."

Alex Traverso with the Bureau of Cannabis Control says his agency is in the midst of re-branding — and not a moment too — given the Jan. 1 deadline to start issuing commercial cannabis licenses.

"I think in order for people to identify us and know what we're responsible it's time for us to rally around one name that people can refer to us as," says Traverso.

So local governments have cannabis fee funds, policy groups hold cannabis summits.

Still, Google trends indicate more people still search for marijuana instead of cannabis.

Looking ahead, Traverso is confident the Bureau of Cannabis Control's new name and logo will stick.

But he adds there are many who love the old name.

"There is going to be a very large percentage of our stakeholders who will never be able to get over the fact that we are no longer BMMR, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation," Traverso says. "Everybody loved BMMR."

Traverso says it may've been the best name for a state agency ever