The rollout of legal cannabis in California on January 1, 2018, was limited to a small subset of the State’s 58 counties and 482 cities that were willing to embrace the newly legalized industry and its myriad cannabis permit regulatory requirements. In fact, the majority of the State has been closed off to the commercial cannabis industry due to city and county bans on commercial cannabis activities and businesses. It’s been over two and a half years since Proposition 64 went into effect. Even though 2020 has been a hard year for individuals and businesses to say the least, the COVID-19 Pandemic has proven to be a boom for the cannabis industry. Now there are some promising changes within various localities that will provide a wider range of opportunity. After a lengthy period of observation that has demonstrated the viability and vibrancy of the industry, jurisdictions throughout the State are getting “off the sidelines” and are opening up to additional commercial activities and/or working towards opening the commercial permitting process for the first time. In response to the pandemic, California has declared that cannabis operators are an essential business, which this industry has worked tirelessly to bring the general public opinion to this point. From the war on drugs, to an essential business.
Below is a list of localities that are currently accepting applications and/or will soon be opening applications for commercial cannabis permits to operate commercial cannabis businesses.
New localities accepting commercial cannabis permit applications
Nevada City – The City is currently accepting applications for the following permit types to be submitted by September 30, 2020 – manufacturing, distribution, nursery and testing labs. Nevada City has a ban on all commercial cultivation activities except for processing and nurseries.
Concord – The City is currently accepting applications on a first come first serve basis which started June 25, 2020 for the following additional activities – manufacturing (x 3), distribution (x2), microbusiness with non-storefront (x2) and testing labs. As of early July, a total of eight applications have been submitted – three for microbusinesses, four for distribution, and one for manufacturing. The City Council is also working during the summer of 2020 to evaluate the viability of and establish a cannabis permit process for retail storefront, non-storefront, and microbusiness with storefront. Concord is expected to release the criteria to permit these activities in early October 2020.
Benicia – The City allows cannabis manufacturing, distribution, cultivation, testing, microbusiness, delivery-only, and retail businesses subject to certain requirements, including issuance of a Public Safety License by the Chief of Police and a Use Permit by the Planning Commission. While no additional retail applications are being accepted at this time, the City is still accepting cannabis permit applications for all other authorized activities.
Localities That Are Likely To Open Sometime Within The Next 6 Months –
Anaheim – The City of Anaheim looked to have a promising future for this year, but as of June 9, 2020, the potential development of a cannabis ordinance was put on an indefinite hold. It’s uncertain when it will move forward as the City awaits further council direction, but the City is expected to release further information before the end of the year.
Chico – The City of Chico is working towards allowing commercial cannabis activities within the city limits. At this time, an ordinance has been released for local review and comment. Due to COVID-19, the public review process has been extended to allow for more public involvement. At this point, the City does not have a date set for a hearing of the ordinance, but given the public release of the ordinance, the City of Chico looks to have a promising future ahead.
Crescent City –The City Council met the first week of April and adopted the final ordinance for commercial activities. The ordinance went into effect in May. Crescent City’s commercial cannabis ordinance allows indoor cultivation, manufacturing, processing, distribution, micro-businesses, testing and retail in its commercial areas and highway service district. At this time, we are waiting for the City to announce when they will be accepting applications which is expected to be in the near future.
Rio Vista – The City adopted a new ordinance for commercial cannabis in May 2020. First and foremost, the City has banned all outdoor cultivation both commercial and personal. Additionally, they have limited the number of retail permits to only three storefront locations which can either be a Type 10 (Retailer) or a Type 12 (microbusiness) license. The ordinance does not limit the number of other license types that can be permitted. The City has not released when they will be accepting applications, but the expectation is that the application process will open before the end of the year.
Santa Barbara County – At the January 2020 Board of Supervisors meeting, the board adopted an ordinance which amended the cannabis retail storefront application process to a merit-based criteria scoring system rather than a random drawing – the new merit-based process went into effect on February 13, 2020. The ordinance limits the number of storefront retail licenses to no more than one in each of the six identified community planning areas. The new process commenced with community engagement meetings held in each of the identified planning areas between July 1 and July 16, which was originally scheduled for April but postponed due to COVID-19. Regardless of the continued department closure to the public, the County did not want to delay further and held the meetings virtually. Given the County’s push to move forward, it’s expected that applications will be accepted in the near future.
Sacramento – The Title 17 ordinance allowing the addition of the Shopping Center (SC) zones to potential storefront dispensary locations was adopted by the City Council on June 30, 2020. Proposed amendments to Title 5, including changing the cap on retail stores from 30 to 40, and the proposed lottery system for project selection are yet to be scheduled for City Council consideration.
Tracy – The City adopted a new ordinance in December 2019 to allow for indoor cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, microbusiness, both storefront and non-storefront retail, and testing labs. The ordinance requires that the City Council adopt procedures to govern the cannabis business permit application process. The City is continuing to evaluate application procedures and plans to establish an application opening date later this year.
If you are a property owner or cannabis operator and want to know more about how the Canna Legal practice group of Beck Law P.C., can help you succeed in any of the above localities, please do not hesitate to give us a call!
***The information is provided as a public education service and is not intended as legal advice. For specific questions regarding California cannabis laws, please contact the Canna Legal practice group of Beck Law P.C.