getting started in cannabis at the state level

Feb 05 Written By Danielle Foley

In our previous blog post we went over the general steps in garnering a city cannabis business license. In this post I will finish off that conversation by detailing how to get licensed at the State level. Keep in mind that we are using cannabis cultivation for adult-use as an example here. The general process is as follows:

1. Determining where to get your license from: 

As I mentioned before, what type of cannabis development you are intending on specializing in will decide where to apply for a license. For cultivation, you will need to look at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Their portal for cannabis cultivation is called CalCannabis cultivation Licensing. Check out our previous blog for a list of other departments for different types of licenses.

2. Reviewing Site and Work Plan: 

Although you probably have already created a site plan and work plan it is important to double check the CA state definitions for your property. This will help reduce the number of revisions needed for resubmittal as well as show you what the fees will be applying for a license. See this link for current regulations for California Cannabis. There may be a few items you need to revise in your site plan according to the state guidelines, but generally it is minimal. 

3. Comply with CEQA and environmental regulations:

Similar to most agricultural businesses, the property must comply with CEQA and environmental regulations. Some of these regulations are not applicable to all sites, but the state puts these items on their checklist to insure it is covered. 

You will have to look into the website Envirostor to see if your site has a presence of hazardous materials. If there are hazardous materials you will have to report them and mitigation measures for the safety of your employees. Next is water compliance. You will need to enroll your site with the state water board, or argue why it does not need such as to determine any water streams your site will be drawing from. If your site needs lake or stream diversion, you must file with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

The final step is to prove compliance with CEQA unless your site is exempt from such measures. You are exempt from CEQA if your site did not require any CUPs or AUPs and was already an approved site. In this case you may submit a Notice of Exemption from CEQA. If that is not the case, you must complete environmental documentation in compliance with CEQA that analyzes your site and its environmental impacts.

4. Preparing documents for Submittal:

Some of the most important documents to submit are the Owner Information Sheet, Live Scan fingerprinting form, Criminal Conviction Disclosure form, and the Commercial Cannabis Licensee Bond. Additionally, they will ask you for a cultivation plan; however, if you followed along in the last blog post you would have already completed one. In addition to these documents you must file with tax and labor agreements before submitting your application 

5. Applying for a Tax Permit: 

As with any business, taxes must be paid. Be sure to obtain a seller’s permit and Cannabis Tax permit from the CA department of Tax & Fee Administration. Additionally if your business employs 20 or more people, you must enter a Labor Peace Agreement. Once that is all uploaded along with the additional requested information you are ready to submit! You can also use the checklist below to keep track of important documents.

6. Applying on the CalCannabis Portal:

Once you have double checked that you have all your plans, it is time to finally apply for a license on the online portal! Although I went over some big parts of the application, there are a few more items that are required in the submission. For a more comprehensive breakdown of application requirements, see this powerpoint the CalCannabis foundation has created as well as the checklist below.

You must register for an account online, and there are detailed instructions on this webpage on how to do such. The application is fairly simple and will require most of the paperwork you utilized in the city level licensing process. Make sure you have your licensing information from the city level prepared to show at the state level. 

After submitting there will likely be many iterations of the license to be reviewed, but with patience it will be processed in due time. Following our guidelines and employing our expertise in the cannabis industry will help move your process along quickly. 

7. Paying your Annual Licensing Fees: 

At the end of this process your Cannabis Cultivation business will  be licensed to operate in the state of California. In order to keep up your credentials you will need to pay an annual fee, which changes. Check in with your online portal to see when you need to pay upcoming fees and how to do such. Now you can sit back, and watch your cannabis business grow!

Although the process of Cannabis licensing may seem daunting, it is a crucial step in becoming a legitimate business. This breakdown makes the process seem simple but there are many additional steps that go into licensing, which may be difficult to handle on top of running a business. Having an experienced professional guide you through the process definitely makes it more efficient and saves costs by reducing the time it takes to get started growing. PDB Collaborative can help with these problems and take the stress out of Cannabis Licensing. Feel free to reach out to us for any of your Cannabis Project Management needs!