Cultivation Licensing


Find a Location

Deciding where to take your cultivation business is a big decision that needs serious consideration. How much space will your operation need? Are you interested in growing indoor or outdoor? Where are you allowed to grow in the city or county you are interested in? Is it an open application process or a competitive one? What is the cannabis tax structure in this area?

Please consider reviewing the cultivation regulations on your own but on a very basic level, there are several license types that cover commercial cannabis cultivation businesses:

  • Specialty Cottage

    • These licenses are for very boutique and small canopy productions

    • Outdoor is limited to 25 mature plants, indoor is up to 500 sqft, mixed-light is up to 2,500 sqft

  • Specialty

    • Outdoor is up to 50 mature plants or a site up to 5,000 sqft, indoor is between 501 and 5,000 sqft and mixed-light is between 2,501 and 5,000 sqft

  • Small

    • Outdoor cultivation is between 5,001 and 10,000 sqft, indoor and mixed-light are between 5,001 and 10,000 sqft

  • Medium - entities are limited to one Medium cultivation license total

    • Outdoor cultivation is between 10,001 sqft and 1 acre, indoor and mixed-light are between 10,001 and 22,000 sqft

  • Nursery licenses are needed for cannabis propagation

  • Processor licenses are needed for trimming, drying, curing, grading and packaging of cannabis and nonmanufactured cannabis products

The state has allowed municipalities to create their own structure regarding commercial cannabis cultivation meaning you may need to fit into more specific rules than just state cultivation regulations. We would recommend starting at a macro level (counties/cities of interest) and working your way through the rules to find a suitable location to negotiate a lease and call home.

apply to municipality

So you have decided on a location whose licensing structure fits your business goals, you have even found an address that is perfectly zoned and ready to welcome you. Now, you have to impress the municipality to gain their acceptance before securing your state license. Obviously, the regulations at the city and county level are diverse and specific to that location; however, we do see some similarities across the state. At the municipal level, governments are interested in your comprehensive business plan and how you will contribute to the community as a whole. Many are even implementing equity programs that further ensures commercial cannabis businesses are invested in local history and future prosperity. In places that have a limit on the licenses they release, they are choosing companies that have given this process some thought and will be there for the long haul. Once you have done the leg-work of finding a location that would be a mutual fit, we can’t emphasize enough the assistance of an attorney to make sure your application is complete, competitive and attractive to the place you are applying.

apply to state

Cultivation is regulated by the California Department of Food & Agriculture. The state issues temporary licenses to well prepared candidates that are valid for 120 days after issuance. This 120 days allows the applicant to further prepare for their state annual license which requires more documentation and precise diagraming. In addition to city or county sign-off, the state is interested in seeing your cultivation plan in its entirety, your commitment to future sustainability and your preparedness for the track and trace system. State licensing is about having your ducks in a row and it is another instance where we would recommend the assistance of an attorney.