CalCannabis & California’s Cultivation Rules
September 13th, 2018
CalCannabis is a division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture that provides cultivation licensing and regulation to commercial California cannabis cultivators. CalCannabis also oversees California’s track-and-trace system, tracking all commercial cannabis and cannabis products from seed to sale. The division has three branches: the Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, and Manufactured Cannabis Safety.
Each of the aforementioned branches manages different cultivation scenarios and companies. The Bureau of Cannabis Control is housed within the Department of Consumer affairs and licenses testing labs, distributors, retailers, and microbusinesses. The CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing branch is housed within the Department of Food and Agriculture and licenses cannabis cultivators while overseeing the track-and-trace system. Finally, the Manufactured Cannabis Safety branch is housed within the Department of Public Health and licenses manufacturers of cannabis products such as edibles and topicals.
The California Cannabis Track-and-Trace (CCTT) system records cannabis inventory and movement through the entire commercial supply chain—from seed to sale—throughout California. CCTT contracted technology company, Franwell, Inc., to provide the METRC software program for tracking, which is the same software used by Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada for cannabis programs.
All annual California cannabis licenses must use the CCT-METRC system to record, track, and update information on their cannabis activities and inventories. Temporary cannabis licenses are not required to use the system and do not receive access to it. Instead, temporary licenses must use paper sales invoices or shipping manifests to document all sales and transfers of cannabis products between temporary licenses, as required by California’s emergency regulations.
Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act
The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) provides the framework for commercial medicinal and recreational cannabis regulations in California. It should be noted, however, that California is yet to confirm permanent cultivation regulations and will continue to operate under emergency regulations until the Department of Food and Agriculture’s (DFA) proposed permanent regulations are final. Still, the proposed regulations provide insight into the general rules and regulations cultivators will likely need to adhere to.
Under MAUCRSA, “cultivation” refers to the process of planting, growing, harvesting, drying, curing, grading, or trimming cannabis. “Processing” refers to the activities associated with drying, curing, grading, trimming, storing, packaging, and labeling non-manufactured cannabis products. Non-manufactured products are defined in the regulations as dried flower, shake, leaf, and pre-rolls intended for sale to medical cannabis patients.
Proposed regulations will see the DFA offering 14 cultivation licenses depending on the type of cultivator, from Specialty Cottage Outdoor licenses for $65, which covers outdoor cultivation sites with up to 25 mature plants, to Medium Indoor licenses for $4,260, which covers indoor sites between 10,000-22,000 square feet of canopy. Note that prices only include the initial application fee; the annual license fees, which are required for all licenses, are significantly higher and must be paid each year.
14 Available California Cultivation Licenses
- Specialty Cottage Outdoor ($65) – an outdoor cultivation site with up to 25 mature plants;
- Specialty Cottage Indoor ($100) – an indoor cultivation site with 500 square feet or less of total canopy;
- Specialty Cottage Mixed-Light ($285) – a mixed-light cultivation site with 2,500 square feet or less of total canopy;
- Specialty Outdoor ($130) – an outdoor cultivation site with less than or equal to 5,000 square feet of total canopy, or up to 50 mature plants on noncontiguous plots;
- Specialty Indoor ($1,070) – an indoor cultivation site between 501 and 5,000 square feet of total canopy;
- Specialty Mixed-Light ($555) – an indoor cultivation site between 2,501 and 5,000 square feet of total canopy;
- Small Outdoor ($265) – an outdoor cultivation site between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet of total canopy;
- Small Indoor ($1,935) – an indoor cultivation site between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet of total canopy;
- Small Mixed-Light ($1,105) – a mixed-light cultivation site between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet of total canopy;
- Medium Outdoor ($765) – an outdoor cultivation site between 10,001 square feet and one acre of total canopy;
- Medium Indoor ($4,260) – an indoor cultivation site between 10,001 and 22,000 square feet of total canopy;
- Medium Mixed-Light ($2,435) – a mixed-light cultivation site between 10,001 and 22,000 square feet of total canopy;
- Nursery ($60) – cultivation of cannabis solely as a nursery;
- Processor ($310) – a cultivation site that conducts only trimming, drying, curing, grading or packaging of cannabis and nonmanufactured cannabis products.
Overview of Primary Cultivation Requirements
Similarly to manufacturing, retail, distribution, and transportation licenses, applicants for a cultivation license must submit background information on all owners. Each owner must undergo a criminal background check; however, a criminal history does not prevent owners from receiving licensure unless their history is substantially related to cannabis cultivation and sale.
Cultivation sites must not be closer than a 600-foot radius from a school for approval. Applicants must also demonstrate they have a valid seller’s permit or are in the process of applying for one, and must have a surety bond of at least $5,000 payable to the DFA.
Furthermore, all applicants must indicate that they’re operating in compliance with local laws and that they have already received local permits and approvals. Because local regulations are variable and evolving, cultivators are encouraged to secure all necessary local permits and documentation before applying for licensure. Applicants must also have a permit from the Regional Water Quality Control Board or State Water Resources Control Board.
The DFA is not expected to restrict the number of cultivation licenses a person can hold provided the total licensed canopy does not exceed four acres.
Note that the aforementioned requirements are not the only regulations cultivators must adhere to; potential cultivators can review all required processes and documentation on the CalCannabis website.
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