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Do you need a license to grow cannabis?

Cannabis promises to be a lucrative business as more states continue decriminalizing and legalizing it. Many people are considering how they can become a part of this lucrative industry.

Growing cannabis may seem the simplest way to get started in the business. However, several growers don’t seem to understand that this is a highly regulated industry and that licenses are required for commercial endeavors.

Who regulates the California cannabis industry?

In California, the cultivation of cannabis is regulated by both state and local governments. The state’s cannabis laws are outlined in the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), passed in 2017.

In 2021, California merged its three cannabis programs – the Bureau of Cannabis Control, CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division, and the CDPH Manufactured Cannabis Branch to create the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). The DCC is the lead agency in regulating commercial cannabis in the state and is the single agency for approving growing licenses.

Anyone 21 and older wishing to be a commercial cannabis grower needs to begin by completing the county’s permit process. Once that step is complete, you can apply to the state for your cultivation license. In addition to the application, you will need to submit the following:

  • A proposed cultivation plan
  • Waste discharge program enrollment 
  • EnviroStor records
  • Water source documentation
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife documentation which shows a streambed alteration agreement or verification that you don’t need one
  • Power source identification 

Obtaining a license can be intimidating, and you may be tempted to bypass the state’s regulations. However, the penalties for doing so can be severe. Working with someone who understands the process can ensure you have the proper documentation and help you obtain your grower’s license.