The licensing branch is responsible for reviewing cultivation license applications prior to licensure. Application review consists of an administrative review, which includes a background check, as well as an environmental review, which consists of environmental protection measures (pest management plan, water sources, etc.) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documentation. Applicants can choose from 17 different license types which are categorized by size and production type. By statute, the "large" category of cultivation licenses shall not be issued prior to January 1, 2023.
The licensing branch also has a team of field scientists who accompany special investigators on field inspections of licensed cultivation sites. The field scientists ensure that cultivators are following all environmental protection measures outlined in CDFA's cannabis cultivation regulations.
Finally, the licensing branch is working on the implementation of two new programs, which must be in place no later than January 1, 2021 — an organic program for cannabis that is comparable to the National Organic Program; and a program to establish a process by which licensed cultivators may establish appellations of standards, practices and varietals applicable to cannabis grown within a certain geographical region of California.
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