Less than two weeks before legal cannabis sales are set to begin in some parts of the state, California cannabis regulators have begun accepting applications for cultivation licenses.
Applicants can access the online application portal through the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the state agency responsible for licensing cannabis farmers.
Temporary licenses are expected to go out almost immediately, although the soonest they’ll take effect is Jan. 1. The licenses will be valid for 120 days and are eligible for two separate 90-day extensions provided the operator has applied for an annual license, which asks for considerably more information from applicants.
Emergency regulations for state-regulated cannabis cultivation can be found online.
For now, regulators will only issue licenses for small and medium-size grows. Licenses for large-scale farms won’t be available until 2023. But due to the last-minute removal of a 4-acre cap on cannabis cultivation, it’s possible for operators to obtain multiple licenses that effectively allow farms of unlimited size.
The rules have sparked controversy within the state’s cannabis industry. Supporters of the change, including Harborside CEO Steve DeAngelo, say large-scale cultivation will help keep down the consumer cost of cannabis. But critics, including two state lawmakers, contend the new rules favor big businesses and could force smaller growers out of the market. Some small growers are weighing whether to sue over the change.
Applications for other types of cannabis licenses have been available since Dec. 8. The state Department of Public Health is handling manufacturing licenses, while the California Bureau of Cannabis Control will issue licenses for other businesses, such as retailers, distributors, microbusinesses, and testing laboratories.
The state issued its first batch of licenses this past Friday, giving an early indication of where some of the first state-licensed businesses will be located. Since then, regulators have been periodically updating the list of licensees. Leafly has been compiling that information along with estimated launch dates for various jurisdictions.