Jan. 23 (UPI) -- California residents who have marijuana delivered will be able to verify through their cell phone that the product is from a state-licensed source, officials said Thursday.
A new emergency rule announced by California's Bureau of Cannabis Control said the state's licensed marijuana businesses must display a cell phone-readable code that links to information about the source of their products.
"Consumers will be able to ask a delivery driver to scan their QR code," said Alex Traverso, spokesperson for the state bureau, in an email.
The QR code will link to online information about the cannabis seller, including the state license number, license status, licensee's name, licensed premises address, business contact information and owner, the bureau said.
The state bureau cited the national vaping crisis as the rationale for the emergency ruling.
Federal investigators have pointed the finger at illicit or counterfeit THC vapes for a national vaping-related lung illness outbreak that has killed 60 people and hospitalized more than 2,600.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that vitamin E acetate, a vape liquid thickening agent that appeared in spring 2019, is likely the culprit for the outbreak that has spread to all 50 states.
More than 190 people have been hospitalized with vaping-related lung illness in California, and four people have died, the California Department of Public Health reported on their website this week.
In recent months, California's state cannabis bureau has cracked down on illicit pop-up cannabis shops and sellers of counterfeit vape cartridges, many tainted with vitamin E acetate.
"Often, illegal retail commercial cannabis businesses visibly resemble or have names that sound similar to legal cannabis businesses," the bureau said in a press release.
Previously, licensed cannabis retailers only were encouraged to display their state license, but now they must display the QR code in a place that the customer can see upon entering the store.
The new rules for delivery services also will help law enforcement determine whether delivery drivers are legitimate, officials said.
Under the rule, police will have another tool to identify vehicles carrying illegal cannabis goods to "prevent these potentially harmful products from reaching illegal retailers, who will ultimately sell them to consumers," the bureau said Thursday.
California was the first state to permit delivery of recreational cannabis products and has the most developed delivery network of states where cannabis is legal.