The PotPlus Guide to California’s Proposed Cannabis Regulations: Part Three

Rule number 510: Sing to your plants regularly


Last week we wrote two of four posts summarizing the new comprehensive rules drafted by the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR). (You can check out the first post here and the second, here.) The proposed rules are essentially a rough draft for the commercial medical cannabis industry– not recreational– and apply to areas such as dispensaries, patients, business owners, cultivators and lab testing. This post will focus on the rules that’ll effect cultivation, including the different types of cultivation licenses, rules regarding pesticides, the track-and-trace system and environmental protection measures. Oh, and the rights the BMCR has in regards to randomly inspecting your facility.


As stated in the other posts, we’re in the midst of a 45-day public comment period. The BMCR wants your feedback regarding why rules need to be changed, why they won’t work and/or what elements will work. You have until June 12th to voice your thoughts! If you wish to send by email, send to: bm***********@dc*.gov. Here are some submission guidelines to ensure your comments are received. There’ll also be public hearings to voice your opinions in person as well. You can click here for the hearing dates. The BMCR is really depending on the public to help shape these regulations, so if you read something that doesn’t make sense, is painfully vague or you think will have negative consequences–TELL THEM! This is a call to action, people!


Here are the proposed regulations regarding cultivation:

1) The California Department of Food & Agriculture is responsible for the cultivation licensing.


2) In order to cultivate, the local jurisdiction in which the grow is proposing to operate must be fully aware and onboard with the project. Documents proving their good graces are required and must include: The name of the applicant, address of the proposed premise(s), the cultivation license type for which the applicant is locally licensed, expiration date of the local authorization, name of jurisdiction office that authorized the grow and the name and contact info of the person who authorized the project.


Then the applicant needs certification stating that they are (or will be) in compliance with all local regulations including the General Plan, zoning ordinances building code standards, noise ordinances and land use plans. It’s also mandatory to provide proof that the cultivation is in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).


3) Pesticide is defined as: “Any spray adjuvant. Any substance, or mixture of substances, which is intended to be used for defoliating plants, regulating plant growth; or for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest that may infest or be detrimental to vegetation, man, animals or households…”


4) You must be in compliance with pesticide laws and regulations as enforced by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, including the types of pesticides used. There are pesticide application protocols everyone must follow. They are:

  • You must comply with all pesticide label directions.
  • You must store chemicals in a secure building or shed to prevent access by wildlife.
  • You must be sure you’re able to contain any chemical leaks and immediately clean up any spills.
  • It’s required that you apply the minimum amount of product necessary to control the target pest– this requires research and intuitively understanding your soil, plants and / or environment.
  • You must prevent offsite chemical / pesticide drift.
  • You must not apply pesticides when pollinators are present. This is imperative! Our most important pollinator, the bee, is dying off and pesticides are their number one killer. If you’re going to follow any rule, it’s this one.
  • This is also important: Do not allow any pesticide drift to flowering plants that are attractive to pollinators.
  • Don’t get pesticides in the water supply!!!! Do not apply pesticides when they may reach surface water or groundwater
  • Spray only when wind is blowing away from surface water bodies.
  • Only use properly labeled pesticides. If no label is available consult the Department of Pesticide Regulation.


5) You can apply for an array of cultivation licenses including (prices and definitions):

  • Specialty cottage outdoor ($65 application fee): An outdoor cultivation site with up to 25 mature plants
  • Specialty cottage indoor ($100 application fee): An indoor cultivation site with 500 square feet or less of total canopy. 
  • Specialty cottage mixed-light ($285 application fee): A mixed-light cultivation site with 2,500 square feet or less of total canopy.
  • Specialty outdoor ($130 application fee): An outdoor cultivation site with less than or equal to 5,000 square feet of total canopy, or up to 50 mature plants on noncontiguous plots.
  • Specialty indoor ($1070 application fee): An indoor cultivation site between 501 and 5,000 square feet of total canopy.
  • Specialty mixed-light ($555 application fee): A mixed-light cultivation site between 2,501 and 5,000 square feet of total canopy.
  • Small outdoor ($265 application fee): An outdoor cultivation site between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet of total canopy.
  • Small indoor ($1935 application fee): An indoor cultivation site between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet of total canopy
  • Small mixed-light ($1105 application fee): A mixed-light cultivation site between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet of total canopy.
  • Medium outdoor ($765 application fee): An outdoor cultivation site between 10,001 square feet and one acre of total canopy.
  • Medium indoor ($4260 application fee): An indoor cultivation site between 10,001 and 22,000 square feet of total canopy.
  • Medium mixed-light ($2435 application fee): A mixed-light cultivation site between 10,001 and 22,000 square feet of total canopy
  • Nursery ($60 application fee): cultivation of cannabis solely as a nursery.
  • Processor ($310 application fee): A cultivation site that conducts only trimming, drying, curing, grading or packaging of cannabis and non-manufactured cannabis products.

6) The Department of Food and Agriculture isn’t allowed to restrict the number of cultivation licenses a person can have, as long as the person’s total licensed canopy does not exceed 4 acres.


7) That said, if a person first presents a “Producing Dispensary” license, which are only issued by the BMCR, you’re actually limited to one Medium Outdoor, or one Medium Indoor, or one Medium Mixed-Light license…So, in other words, some people will have a limit to how many cultivation licenses they can have.


8) Producing Dispensary is defined as: A license for dispensers who have no more than three licensed dispensary facilities and wish to hold either a cultivation or manufacturing license or both. Cultivation shall be limited to no more than 4 acres of total canopy.


9) If applying for an indoor license type, the applicant must prove the local fire department has been notified of the cultivation site.


10) The BMCR is allowed to collect cannabis samples for their own laboratory analysis. They can do this whenever they want and with no notice.


11)  All licensees and applicants are subject to inspection, investigation or audit of licensed premises by state or local government officials to make sure their in compliance with state and local laws. Failure to fully cooperate with inspections, investigations or audits is a license violation subject to enforcement. You can expect an inspection, investigation or audit to be any of the following: A review of any books, records, accounts, inventory, or onsite operations specific to the license.


12) Applicant must provide proof from the land or property owner that they have the legal right to occupy and use the proposed location.


13) Applicants must get finger printed.


14) You won’t be denied a license if you’ve been charged with a felony, but it’s require to provide a detailed description of convictions, like: The date of conviction; dates of incarceration if applicable; dates of probation if applicable; dates of parole if applicable; a detailed description of the offense; and a statement of rehabilitation for each conviction.


Forever growing (Photo: Bridget Arias)


15) You’ll likely be denied a license if you’ve been charged with a violent felony; a felony involving fraud, deceit or embezzlement; any felony conviction involving the hiring, employment, or use of children in transporting, carrying, selling, giving away, preparing for sale or peddling any controlled substance to a minor, or offering, furnishing, or selling any controlled substance to a minor; a felony conviction for drug trafficking.


16) But that’s not all. You’ll also be denied if:  The applicant’s premises aren’t compliant; the applicant’s premises are substantially different from the diagram of the premises submitted by the applicant; the applicant denied the Department of Food and Agriculture access to the premises; the applicant made a material misrepresentation on the application; the applicant did not submit a renewal application within in the proper timeframe; the licensee has been denied a license, permit, or other authorization to engage in commercial cannabis activity by a state licensing authority or local agency; or the applicant or licensee has insufficient or outstanding fees owed to the Department of Food and Agriculture.


17) If you were convicted of a felony for pretty much anything regarding cannabis or a controlled substance prior to applying, you’re likely off the hook. But if you’re charged after receiving a license, it’ll get revoked.


18) The next several points are regarding water, which is going to be a massive part of the application process as well as being compliant. In other words, you basically have to know everything about your water source and you must be transparent with whom you’re getting your water from. For instance, you must provide evidence in your application that you have permits issued by the applicable Regional Water Quality Control Board or State Water Resources Control Board proving water quality protection.


19) You must identify in your application exactly where the water you’re using in the grow is coming from. If it’s a water supplier, you must name the supplier. If it’s a small retail water supplier that operates under contract for water delivery and pick up, you must provide information disclosing the company’s name, whether the water’s from a surface water body or an underground stream flowing in a known and definite channel, the geographic coordinates of the channel and the maximum amount of water delivered to the applicant for cannabis cultivation in any year.


20) If the water is from a groundwater well you must provide a copy of the well log filed with the Department of Water Resources for each well used to divert water delivered to the applicant. You must also provide geographical coordinates for the well.


21) If the water source is a rainwater catchment system, you must provide the total square footage of the catchment footprint area(s), the total storage capacity (specifically in gallons) of the catchment system(s); as well as a detailed description of the type, nature, and location of each catchment surface.


22) If the water source is a diversion from a waterbody, the applicant has to provide any applicable statement, application, permit, license, or small irrigation use registration identification number(s). There is supplemental information required acting as proof from the Regional Water Quality Control Board.


23)  There are a number of environmental protection measures, which are perhaps the most important of all the proposed rules. Growing cannabis really isn’t great for the environment. Between using tons of water, loads of energy and pesticides the Earth could actually suffer if it’s not done properly. Applicants for indoor license types shall provide the power source(s) for cultivation activities, including but not limited to illumination, heating, cooling, and ventilation. The cultivation site must be in compliance with State Water Resources Control Board.


24) We stated this in our last post, but applicants can’t be a licensed retailer of alcoholic beverages.


25) The Department of Food and Agriculture will establish a track-and-trace system of unique identifiers of cannabis and non-manufactured cannabis products, which all licensees shall use. Each licensee shall report in the track-and-trace system the disposition of immature and mature plants, non-manufactured cannabis products on the licensed premises and any transfers associated with commercial cannabis activity between licensees. Data entered into the track-and-trace system is assumed to be accurate and can be used to take enforcement action against the licensee if not corrected. Attempts to falsify or misrepresent data or information entered into the track-and-trace system is a violation and subject to enforcement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *