CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing

CDFA Inspection Services • 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 • (916) 263-0801 • calcannabis@cdfa.ca.gov

California Medical Cannabis Cultivation Licensing Regulations

As directed by the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act and the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has written the proposed regulations to establish cannabis cultivation licensing and a track-and-trace system, collectively referred to as CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing. On April 28, 2017, we released the proposed regulations that will define the cannabis cultivation licensing process, which triggers a 45-day public comment period. We encourage you to send us your feedback and suggestions. The last day to submit written comments is Wednesday, June 14, 2017, by 5pm (PST).

CalCannabis Regulatory Documents

FAQs and Additional Information

PLEASE NOTE: We are not currently issuing licenses. We anticipate we will begin issuing licenses on January 1, 2018.

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California Environmental Quality Act

On April 27, 2017, the California Department of Food and Agriculture issued a revised Notice of Preparation (NOP) for CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, which is the first step in preparing an Environmental Impact Report—a requirement for us per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Issuing this notice officially triggered a 30-day comment period to allow agencies and interested parties the opportunity to provide input on the scope and content of the environmental analysis; the last day to provide comments on this environmental review process is May 26, 2017. Please click here for more information.

NOTE: The state's cannabis cultivation regulations are being developed through a separate but parallel process from the environmental review. Now that the proposed medical cannabis cultivation regulations have been released, a separate, 45-day public comment period for the cultivation regulations has begun. _____________________________________________________________________________________________

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General Information and Links to Related Agencies

  • New Edition! For an overview of CalCannabis, including an illustrated chart of the responsibilities of each state department required to regulate cannabis, click here
  • Subscribe here for CalCannabis email alerts
  • Contact CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing via email at CalCannabis@cdfa.ca.gov or call (916) 263-0801
  • To learn about licenses for cannabis transportation, distribution, laboratory testing, or dispensaries, visit the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR) (also known as the bureau)
  • To learn about licenses for cannabis manufacturing, such as edibles, visit the Office of Manufactured Cannabis Safety (OMCS)
  • The California Department of Technology is leading the procurement effort for the cannabis track-and-trace system. If you would like information related to the procurement, the solicitation documents can be accessed via Cal eProcure. All questions regarding the procurement must be directed to the California Department of Technology procurement official listed in the procurement document.


CalCannabis Newsfeed

News Release: CDFA Releases Draft Regulations on California's Medical Cannabis Cultivation Program

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SACRAMENTO, April 28, 2017 — The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) today released proposed regulations for the state medical cannabis cultivation and licensing program.

Release of the draft regulations marks the official start of a 45-day public comment period provided under California law. All interested parties are encouraged to submit comments about the proposed regulations to CalCannabis, the branch of CDFA that is overseeing the cannabis cultivation regulatory framework. You can read the proposed cannabis cultivation licensing regulations at California’s cannabis web portal, https://cannabis.ca.gov.

Comments may be submitted in writing during the 45-day open-comment period, or verbally at one of the four public hearings that are planned.

Notice of Public Comment Period Extension

CalCannabis Initial Statement of Reasons and SRIA

CalCannabis Notice of Proposed Action

CalCannabis Proposed Medical Regulations

How to Submit Comments

FAQ on Medical Cannabis Cultivation Licensing Proposed Regulations

CalCannabis FAQ on Medical and Adult-Use (Nonmedical) Cannabis Cultivation Licensing

News Release: CDFA Releases Draft Regulations on California's Medical Cannabis Cultivation Program

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Legal Notice

CDFA Revised Notice of Preparation: Draft Program Environmental Impact Report

FAQ on Environmental Review Process

CalCannabis Informational Flyer, 3rd edition

CalCannabis Light Use Survey issued in December 2016

Literature Review on the Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation, February 2017

Medical Cannabis Scoping Report, January 2017

MCCP Factsheet Summary - California

MCCP FAQ

Water Rights Information

MCCP Summary - Statute Regulatory Goals

CalCannabis Fact Sheet (formerly MCCP)—Pre-Rulemaking Discussion Questions

Regulation Development and Environmental review Scoping Powerpoint

Scoping Workshop Poster Boards

Scoping Comment Card

Public Scoping Workshop Schedule and Information

Public Scoping Public Notice

2016 Licensing Survey Results

Assembly Bill 243

Assembly Bill 266

Senate Bill 643

Cole Memo 2013

Presentation for Public Scoping Workshops- September 2016

Comprehensive Adult Use of Marijuana Act

Comprehensive Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act

  •   When can I apply for a cannabis cultivation license?

    Applications will be available for all cannabis cultivation licenses—both medical and adult-use (nonmedical)—on January 1, 2018.

  •   What types of cannabis cultivation licenses will be offered in California?

    The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is authorized to issue the following 11 TYPES OF MEDICAL cannabis cultivation licenses:

    Type 1—Specialty Outdoor For outdoor cultivation that uses no artificial lighting for a 5,000-square-foot or smaller total canopy size on one premises, or for up to 50 mature plants on noncontiguous plots

    Type 1A—Specialty Indoor For indoor cultivation that exclusively uses artificial lighting for 501 to 5,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises

    Type 1B—Specialty Mixed-Light For cultivation that uses a combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting at a maximum threshold (which will be determined by the licensing authority) for 2,501 to 5,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises

    Type 1C—Specialty Cottage For cultivation that uses a combination of natural and supplemental artificial light at a maximum threshold (which will be determined by the licensing authority) on one premises for: 2,500 square feet or less of total canopy size for mixed-light cultivation, up to 25 mature plants for outdoor cultivation, or 500 square feet or less of total canopy size for indoor cultivation

    Type 2—Small Outdoor For outdoor cultivation that uses no artificial lighting for 5,001 to 10,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises

    Type 2A—Small Indoor For indoor cultivation that exclusively uses artificial lighting for 5,001 to 10,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises

    Type 2B—Small Mixed-Light For cultivation that uses a combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting at a maximum threshold (which will be determined by the licensing authority) for 5,001 to 10,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises

    Type 3—Outdoor For outdoor cultivation that uses no artificial lighting for 10,001 square feet up to 1 acre of total canopy size on one premises Note: CDFA will limit the total number of Type 3 licenses allowed

    Type 3A—Indoor For indoor cultivation that exclusively uses artificial lighting for 10,001 to 22,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises Note: CDFA will limit the total number of Type 3 licenses allowed

    Type 3B—Mixed-Light For cultivation that uses a combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting at a maximum threshold (which will be determined by the licensing authority) for 10,001 to 22,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises Note: CDFA will limit the total number of Type 3 licenses allowed

    Type 4—Nursery For cultivation of medical cannabis solely as a nursery (examples of typical nursery activities include cloning and seed propagation) //Note: Type 4 licensees may transport live plants if they also hold a Type 12 transporter license; please contact the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation for information on how to obtain a Type 12 transporter license via email or call (800) 952-5210//

    The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is authorized to issue the following 13 TYPES OF ADULT-USE (NONMEDICAL) cannabis cultivation licenses:

    Type 1—Small Specialty Outdoor

    Type 1A—Small Specialty Indoor

    Type 1B—Small Specialty Mixed-Light

    Type 2—Small Outdoor

    Type 2A—Small Indoor

    Type 2B—Small Mixed-Light

    Type 3—Medium Outdoor

    Type 3A—Medium Indoor

    Type 3B—Medium Mixed-Light

    Type 4—Nursery

    Type 5—Large Outdoor For outdoor cultivation that uses no artificial lighting for more than 1 acre of total canopy size on one premises Note: CDFA will not issue any Type 5 licenses prior to January 1, 2023

    Type 5A—Large Indoor For indoor cultivation that exclusively uses artificial lighting for more than 22,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises Note: CDFA will not issue any Type 5 licenses prior to January 1, 2023

    Type 5B—Large Mixed-Light For cultivation using a combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting at a maximum threshold (which will be determined by the licensing authority) for more than 22,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises Note: CDFA will not issue any Type 5 licenses prior to January 1, 2023

  •   How are you developing the cannabis cultivation licensing regulations?

    The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is required to follow the statutory requirements found in the California Administrative Procedure Act. CDFA works with stakeholders, the public, and licensing authorities to develop the standards and regulations necessary to successfully implement a statewide cannabis cultivation regulatory structure in California.

    SPECIAL NOTE: Draft regulations for medical cannabis cultivation licensing are now available for public review and comment. Read more here.

    Draft regulations for adult-use (nonmedical) cultivation licensing will be available for public review and comment later in 2017. CDFA intends to exercise emergency authority in 2017 for the adult-use licensing regulations and expects these regulations to be similar to the medical cannabis cultivation regulations. Until these draft regulations are released, prospective adult-use cultivation applicants might benefit from reviewing the licensing requirements outlined in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA, also known as Proposition 64). Examples of requirements listed in AUMA include providing a detailed description of the applicant’s operating procedures and a comprehensive diagram of the proposed premises.

  •   How do I apply for a cannabis cultivation license?

    The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is not issuing any cultivation licenses until January 1, 2018. However, in preparation for state licensure, CDFA recommends staying up to date on city and/or county government requirements for local cannabis cultivation licenses and permits.

  •   How can I receive updates on the status of California’s cultivation?

    CDFA regularly posts information on its website and via these three social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Email alerts are another way to get information; please sign up here. Public input is greatly encouraged during the official public-comment periods. The 45-day comment period for the proposed medical cultivation licensing regulations is open now; the last day to submit comments is Wednesday, June 14, 2017 by 5pm (PST). For tips on how to submit comments, please click here.

  •   Where can I read a summary of California’s adult-use cannabis law (AUMA, also known as Proposition 64), and the Medical Cannabis Safety and Regulations Act (MCSRA)?

    For a summary of AUMA (Proposition 64), please click here.

    For a summary of MCSRA, please click here.

  •   How long will a license last before it must be renewed?

    All cannabis cultivation licenses will be valid for one year; a license must be renewed if a licensee wants to continue cultivating cannabis commercially.

  •   What is the cannabis track-and-trace system? And how will it work?

    The California Department of Food and Agriculture is developing a track-and-trace system for both medical and adult-use (nonmedical) cannabis. This system will record the movement of cannabis and cannabis products through the supply chain—from cultivation to sale—which will help ensure that if a public safety concern arises, the source will be identifiable. The track-and-trace system also will help prevent black-market cannabis products from entering the regulated market, and likewise help prevent regulated cannabis products from being diverted into the black market.

  •   Will there be different rules for how medical and adult-use (nonmedical) cannabis may be grown in California?

    The California Department of Food and Agriculture is responsible for licensing all commercial cannabis cultivators, and the cultivation requirements are expected to be the same for growing medical and adult-use (nonmedical) cannabis. However, cannabis products sold to the public must be clearly differentiated as either medical or adult-use products.

  •   Is cannabis considered an agricultural crop in California?

    California defines medical and adult-use (nonmedical) cannabis as an agricultural product. However, this identication as an agricultural product does not extend to other areas of the law. For example, cannabis is not an agricultural product with respect to local “right to farm” ordinances.

  •   How can I contact CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing?

    Please call (916) 263-0801, Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, or send an email.

  •   Which department should I contact to learn about other—noncultivation—types of state cannabis licenses?

    The Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulations (BMCR, also known as the bureau) is within the California Department of Consumer Affairs and will issue licenses for transportation, distribution, dispensaries, microbusinesses, and (for medical cannabis only) testing laboratories.

    • visit the BMCR website

    • send an email

    • subscribe to BMCR’s email alerts

    • call (800) 952-5210

    The Office of Manufactured Cannabis Safety (OMCS) is within the California Department of Public Health and will issue licenses for manufacturing (such as edibles) and (for adult-use cannabis only) testing laboratories.

    • visit the OMCS website

    • send an email

    • call (916) 445-0275

    All three of California’s cannabis licensing authorities also can be reached via the California Cannabis Portal.

  •   What is the process for creating the state cannabis cultivation regulations?

    The California Administrative Procedure Act (California Government Code, Section 11340 et seq.) establishes rulemaking procedures and standards for California’s state agencies. The act’s requirements are designed to provide the public with a meaningful opportunity to participate in the adoption of state regulations and ensure the regulations are clear, necessary, and legally valid. The majority of adopted regulations that conform to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) are submitted to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) as a “regular” rulemaking. Unless a proposed rulemaking action is submitted to the OAL as an “emergency” rulemaking, or is exempt from the APA, the regular rulemaking process must be followed when a state agency undergoes a rulemaking action.

    The Step-by-Step Process:

    The California State Legislature grants authority to a state agency—in this case it’s the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)—to adopt regulations.

    The state agency initiates preliminary activities, which may include preparing an Economic Impact Assessment (for non-major regulations with less than $50 million in economic impacts), a Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment (for major regulations with more than $50 million in economic impacts), an Economic and Fiscal Impact Statement (STD 399), a Notice of Proposed Action, an Initial Statement of Reasons, and a Proposed Text of Regulations.

    The state agency publishes a Notice of Proposed Action, an Initial Statement of Reasons, and the Proposed Text of Regulations in the California Regulatory Notice Register. The agency also must mail the Notice of Proposed Action to those who have requested a copy, and post on its website the Notice of Proposed Action, Proposed Text of Regulations, and Initial Statement of Reasons.

    Publication and issuance of a Notice of Proposed Action opens a rulemaking record.

    The minimum 45-day public comment period commences.

    The state agency has the option to hold public hearings. If the agency does not schedule a public hearing, an interested person may submit in writing a request for a hearing to be held.

    The state agency receives and considers public comments. The public’s comments and any resulting changes to the regulations may be categorized as follows:

    Nonsubstantial Changes or No Changes Nonsubstantial changes do not alter the regulatory effect of the proposed provisions, and the rulemaking process continues. The state agency updates the informative digest and prepares a Final Statement of Reasons (with a summary and a response to the public comments) and a Final Text of Regulations.

    Substantial Changes That Are Sufficiently Related These are changes considered reasonably foreseeable based on the Notice of Proposed Action, and they must be made available for public comment for at least 15 days. The state agency mails a notice of opportunity for commenting on the proposed changes (along with a copy of the proposed changes) to each person who has submitted written comments about the proposal, testified at an official public hearing, or asked to receive any notices of modification. The agency also must post this notice on its website. When no further substantial changes are made to the proposed regulations, the agency updates the informative digest and prepares the Final Statement of Reasons (with a summary and a response to the public comments) and the Final Text of Regulations.

    Substantial Changes Not Sufficiently Related—Or Major Changes These are changes to the original proposal that are not reasonably foreseeable based on the Notice of Proposed Action. The state agency is obligated to publish another 45-day Notice of Proposed Action in the California Regulatory Notice Register, which is similar to the original Notice of Proposed Action. When no further substantial changes are made to the proposed regulations, the agency updates the informative digest and prepares the Final Statement of Reasons (with a summary and a response to the public comments) and the Final Text of Regulations.

    The state agency must transmit a rulemaking action to the OAL for review within one year from the date the notice was published in the California Regulatory Notice Register. Once submitted, the OAL has 30 working days to conduct a review of the rulemaking record.

    Generally, regulations go into effect on one of four quarterly dates, which are based on the dates the final regulations are filed with California’s Secretary of State: January 1, April 1, July 1, October 1. However, an effective date may vary if a specific effective date is stated in statute or other law, the adopting agency requests a later effective date, or the agency demonstrates good cause for an earlier effective date.

    For more information on this step-by-step process, see the illustrated flowcharts for regular rulemaking and for emergency rulemaking.

  •   Where can I get a copy of California’s proposed medical cannabis cultivation regulations?

    Visit CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing website.

  •   How can I get a state cannabis cultivation license?

    CDFA is not currently accepting applications or issuing any state licenses for cannabis cultivation until January 1, 2018.

    As of January 1, 2018, you will be able to apply online for medical and adult-use (nonmedical) cannabis cultivation licenses through the CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing website. Until then, please see the proposed regulations for licensing application requirements and guidance on the application process. There may be changes to the proposed regulations before the final regulations are published. Any changes to the proposed regulations would trigger another opportunity for the public to review and comment on those changes.

  •   When is the public comment period?

    The public comment period is from Friday, April 28, 2017; until 5pm (PST) Wednesday, June 14, 2017.

  •   How can I submit a comment?

    Only comments submitted via one of the three methods listed below will be considered as formal comments. Please note that statements or verbal comments made to CalCannabis staff are not considered formal comments. Formal verbal comments may be heard only at one of the four official CalCannabis public hearings listed below.

    Email Comments

    Write in the email subject line: Comments on Medical Cannabis Cultivation Regulations

    Address the email to: CalCannabisRegs@cdfa.ca.gov

    Mail Comments

    California Department of Food and Agriculture CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Proposed Medical Cannabis Regulations Attn: Rachelle Kennedy 1220 N Street, Suite 400 Sacramento, CA 95814

    Provide Verbal Comments

    Attend one of the following four public hearings offered by CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing to provide your comments verbally:

    Tuesday, May 16, 2017 1pm-3pm Delhi Center, Ballroom 505 East Central Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92707

    Thursday, May 18, 2017 1pm-3pm Visalia Convention Center, Sequoia Room 303 East Acequia Avenue, Visalia, CA 93219

    Thursday, May 25, 2017 1pm-3pm Ukiah Convention Center, Cabernet Room 200 South School Street, Ukiah, CA 95482

    Wednesday, June 14, 2017* 1pm-3pm California Department of Food and Agriculture Auditorium 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

    *NOTE: Webinar participation will be available at the Sacramento hearing only. Registration information will be posted online here.

  •   What is the most effective way to make comments?

    Be concise and focus directly on the proposed medical cannabis cultivation regulations.

    Identify the specific part of the proposed medical cannabis cultivation regulations you are commenting on (if possible, indicate the regulation section number you’re referring to).

    Include supporting evidence and facts, and provide complete references and/or citations, particularly if you’re referring to a website (for example, provide the specific website url).

    The public comment period is from Friday, April 28, 2017, until 5pm (PST) Wednesday, June 14, 2017.

  •   When is the last day to submit comments?

    Written comments must be submitted (or postmarked) by 5pm (PST) Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Verbal comments may only be submitted at one of the four public hearings (see the hearing schedule above).

  •   Will every comment be considered?

    CDFA must summarize and respond to comments submitted during the 45-day public comment period; however, CDFA is only required to do this for comments about the proposed regulations or the procedures followed by CDFA during the rulemaking action. For each comment, CDFA must include either an explanation of how the proposed action has been changed to accommodate the comment or state the reason why the comment has been rejected. The summary and response to comments is included as part of the rulemaking file in a document called a Final Statement of Reasons.

  •   What is an Initial Statement of Reasons and a Notice of Proposed Action?

    In addition to the proposed regulation text, the regulation package posted online includes two documents: the Notice of Proposed Action (Notice) and the Initial Statement of Reasons (ISOR).

    The Notice provides critical information about the regulations, including a summary of existing laws that pertain to cannabis, the specific statutory authority that requires CDFA to create regulations, and details about the commenting process.

    The ISOR provides the reasoning behind CDFA’s decisions for including each regulation, and describes the purpose, need, and benefits of the regulations. It also identifies the supporting materials used to make regulatory decisions, including an economic analysis called the Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment (also known as the SRIA, pronounced sir-RHEE- uh). The SRIA is required with the CDFA regulatory package because the medical cannabis cultivation regulations are considered a “major regulation.” A major regulation is defined as one with estimated costs or benefits exceeding $50 million. The SRIA contains the information required with the standard economic analysis of a nonmajor regulation, including how the regulations will impact businesses and jobs, and information such as the potential impacts on competition and investment in California. You can read the state’s medical cannabis regulation SRIA here.

  •   What is the emergency rulemaking process? How is it different from the regular rulemaking process?

    CDFA is required to follow the statutory requirements found in the California Administrative Procedure Act when adopting regulations. Regulations may be established through regular rulemaking or emergency rulemaking. The Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act and the Adult Use of Marijuana Act allow CDFA to use emergency rulemaking if necessary.

    An emergency means a situation that calls for immediate action to avoid serious harm to the peace, health, safety, or general welfare of the public. Emergency regulations must be followed immediately by the regular rulemaking process to make the regulations permanent. If a state agency does not complete regular rulemaking within the prescribed time period, the regulations become void; when a situation calls for emergency regulations, the following occurs:

    • The state agency files emergency regulations with the OAL 10 days before the effective date.

    • During the first five days of OAL’s review period, the public may submit comments to OAL, with a copy for the applicable state agency.

    • The state agency has until the eighth day of OAL’s 10-day review period to submit a rebuttal to OAL to any public comments; however, this step is optional.

    • The OAL’s deadline for a decision is on the tenth day, and, if approved, the emergency regulations are filed with the Secretary of State and will become effective immediately for 180 days. (Up to two 90-day re-adoptions are allowed if the agency is making progress toward adopting the permanent regulations.)

    • Emergency rulemaking is always followed by regular rulemaking.

  •   What is a trailer bill?

    A trailer bill—also known as a budget trailer bill—is legislation that implements specific changes to the law to enact the state budget. Generally, a separate trailer bill is needed for each major area of budget appropriation, such as transportation, human services, education, or revenue. These bills typically are negotiated as part of the entire budget package each fiscal year. This year, the California governor’s office introduced a trailer bill for cannabis regulations; you can read the bill here.

  •   How does this trailer bill affect the state’s medical cannabis cultivation regulations?

    There is currently budget trailer bill language designed to align the Medical Cannabis Safety and Regulation Act with Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. If that bill passes, the proposed regulations will be withdrawn and a new set of regulations consistent with changes in the law will be proposed. However, public comments on the regulations published on April 28, 2017, are still very important. Many of the provisions in these licensing regulations will carry over to new regulations if the trailer bill passes. Public comments now will provide valuable information and guide efforts when crafting any new regulations.



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The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 ensures that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes where medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person’s health would benefit from the use of medical cannabis. Cannabis is a Schedule I drug according to the federal Controlled Substances Act. Cannabis related activity is subject to federal prosecution, regardless of the protections provided by state law.