As you know, cannabis operators have to pay many different taxes.
From sales tax to excise tax, the system is quite complex; and once your cannabis company starts to thrive, the tax system becomes even more complicated.
California’s sales tax is a great example of where successful cannabis entrepreneurs get tripped up with being compliant while maximizing their profit.
California’s state sales tax for cannabis operators is 7.25% – 6% state tax, plus a 1.25% mandatory local tax. Depending on where your business is located, the local tax may be an additional 3% to well over 10%.
For cannabis operators who are achieving a certain amount of sales each month, you will be required to pay the sales tax monthly, rather than quarterly.
Here’s how the process works, and how our experts can help you manage your tax burden more effectively.
Why is proper tax reporting important?
As the saying goes, there are two things certain in life: death and taxes.
Taxes are the number one reason why most cannabis companies fail; the IRS is not shy about auditing cannabis operators, and the 280E is one of the primary tools the government uses to penalize cannabis ventures.
This burdensome 280E regulation makes a lot of money for the IRS in the form of fees and fines; so much so that Colorado is able to fix roads that aren’t even broken because they have so much tax revenue.
It’s important to protect you business as much as possible from the tax authorities; and the first step is to understanding cannabis sales tax and commit to paying your taxes monthly.
As a side note: having a CPA prepare your taxes is best because they will use an accepted methodology for their calculations that can then be used as exhibits during a potential audit.
What is cannabis sales tax?
As previously mentioned, the state sales tax rate varies slightly depending on where you are. Most cannabis organizations can expect to pay 8% - 10% of sales. Sales tax is charged at the cannabis dispensary on top of the sales price and the cannabis business tax. Here is a breakdown of cannabis tax calculations for California.
Cannabis sales tax in California is paid to the CDTFA. When you apply for a sales tax permit, the Administration will ask you a series of questions to see what your payment schedule should be.
Typically, most companies pay their taxes quarterly – meaning that taxes are due April 30, July 31, October 31, and January 31 for the periods Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 (respectively). If you have low sales volume (meaning less than $5,000 in sales), the CDTFA may put you on an annual payment schedule.
For successful, high sales organizations, it’s likely that you will be asked to pay sales tax monthly to the city and state. Here’s what that process looks like and why it’s best to have an experienced CPA calculate your payments for you.
How to calculate sales tax for the state
In our experience, some clients are asked to pre-pay sales tax every single month because they have such high cannabis sales. How does this work?
In this instance, the cannabis operator must pay estimated payments for month one and month two of the quarter. Then, when the quarterly return is filed, the CPA firm squares up discrepancies from the first two months of the quarter into the third month’s payment.
How do we estimate your month one and two sales?
The GreenGrowth CPAs usually look at your POS software on the 20th day of the month to see your current run rate, and in addition compare that rate to the past year for the month we are evaluating.
From there, we create an estimate of the monthly of ABC$$ to the CDTFA, thereby covering your state taxes.
The CDTFA will now let you know that you are subject to pre-payments or any changes to the frequency of your payments.
If you don’t make payments on time, then penalties and interest will be assessed. Note that these penalties are compounding – so if you are faced with a fine, pay it right away.
How to calculate sales tax for your local jurisdiction
In addition to paying your state sales tax, cannabis operators must also pay city sales tax. This rate and due date varies depending on your location.
For example, if you are based in the city of Vallejo, you are required to file a monthly return based on gross receipts, rather than sales. These are due by the 20th or 25th of the following month. Get in touch with our experts or the local tax authority to make sure you know the deadline and cannabis sales tax rate you are responsible for.
There’s a lot of confusion and grey area when preparing for your tax payments to the city – mostly because cannabis is an all-cash industry, and most cities aren’t equipped to process monthly payments of cash.
Most cities have self-reporting taxes with no audits required (yet). It’s likely, however, that California cities are missing out on major tax revenue, and as a result will insist on proper reporting and auditing in the future. It’s best to be rigorous about your tax payments to make sure there are no issues down the road.
How can you make sure you’re paying the right amount?
Make sure you’re instituting great cash-handling practices and create strong SOPs. Despite having little to no access to a bank account, manage your cash responsibly to make sure everything balances correctly.
Plan ahead: if you're looking at your cash or bank account, start setting up an account or repository for taxes. Put money aside each week so that you’re not forced to come up with a large sum of cash all at once.
To give yourself total peace of mind, engage an accountant with specific cannabis-industry experience who can give you monthly guidance and be by your side in the event that you get audited by the city, state or federal government. Click the button below to get started with one of our experts.
The recreational cannabis industry is considered a high-growth market, with the potential to grow to $66.3 billion by 2025.
However, despite the massive amount of cash pouring into the industry, operators are limited by the Cole Memorandum and federal regulations prohibiting banks from working with cannabis companies.
Lack of access to the banking system causes many problems for legal cannabis businesses – especially when it comes to paying taxes.
Federal regulations force cannabis operators to pay their taxes in cash (in most cases). There are a lot of cannabis taxes to be accounted for; the US government is estimated to have collected $4.7 billion in taxes from cannabis companies in 2017. That’s not to mention the state and local taxes cannabis operators are subject to – which can be at rates as high as 15% in some areas.
Cannabis operators want to pay their taxes, but the rules regarding how to submit payment make it a headache.
The transfer of cash is not only frustrating and difficult, but often risky. Handling that much cash presents a big personal safety risk for cannabis business owners and the agencies collecting the cash.
So the question remains, how can cannabis operators better navigate the tax return process given federal banking restrictions?
Let's explore the process...
EFTPS and Federal Taxes
Generally speaking, ordinary corporations and C-Corps pay the IRS through EFTPS.
EFTPS is a secure website that is linked to the IRS. It is a payment system through which business owners upload everything in a very secure way – and it’s a vast improvement on the previous system. Payments no longer get lost in the mail or counted incorrectly due to human error.
EFTPS is easy to set up a profile and link your bank account; plus, an added security measure allows business owners to set up a second authentication method through a PIN number sent through the mail.
Most traditional businesses use EFTPS for payroll tax deposits. Through EFTPS, the employer collects taxes and then sends them on the employee’s behalf, every pay period, which makes it easy for everyone involved.
Though, for cannabis operators, it is extremely difficult but not impossible to open a business bank account; therefore, EFTPS is not an option for cannabis companies. Cash can’t be transferred through EFTPS.
So as a cannabis operator, how can you pay federal taxes?
Federal Taxes for Cannabis Operators
Here’s how cannabis operators can pay their federal taxes in cash.
The first step is to find the location of your nearest IRS office. In California, there are IRS offices located across the state. Maybe 40% of the offices accept cash. We suggest that you call ahead to make an appointment and make sure that your nearest office accepts cash.
Give yourself plenty of lead time as there are few IRS offices and they have very few appointments available. And they will not give you a 'break' just because you couldn't get an appointment in time for the deadline, so plan way far ahead.
Once you secure an appointment, pack your cash and travel to the office.
We recommend you share the appointment day, time, and place with as few people as possible to mitigate the security risk. You will be traveling with a large amount of cash, so don’t increase your chances of being a target.
When you go to the office and make a payment, know ahead of time that the IRS office may limit the amount you can pay per appointment. If you’re paying $250,000 in taxes (which is not that uncommon), you will likely need to make many appointments. The reason for this is security; the IRS doesn’t want to take the risk of having a huge amount of cash on the premises.
One other thing, make sure you get a receipt each time you pay an installment on your taxes, just in case there’s ever a question down the road.
Alternately, some cannabis companies pay their taxes through the business owner’s personal account, and then have the cannabis company reimburse the business owner. This is a work-around that can save a lot of frustration, but also places a financial burden on one individual.
Workaround for Small Tax Payments
Some operators may just be getting started and not have a huge tax liability, so here's another method to pay your taxes in cash.
If there’s no IRS office near you that accepts cash, you can pay your taxes in cash at a participating retail store like 7-Eleven. The IRS has a program called PayNearMe that allows you to make a cash payment after being verified.
Note that payments are limited to up to $1,000 per day, and can take up to 5 to 7 business days to transmit. Verification also can take two to three business days.
Allow yourself plenty of time and review the limitations before committing to this option.
Paying State Cannabis Taxes in Cash
The steps for paying your state cannabis taxes in cash are similar to the process for paying your federal taxes.
The agency is different – in California, you will make payments to the franchise tax board – but you will need to find a location near you and set up an appointment. Most offices in California accept cash, but some will even take cashiers checks. Make sure to phone ahead and know what the limitations are before you go.
Overall, paying your taxes in cash as a cannabis operators is a burdensome and frustrating process.
We can help you strategize and make the most of the limited tax deductions available to cannabis operators. Get in touch with our team by clicking the get started button below.
In Part 1 of our guide to starting a hemp farm in California, we outlined the process for registering as a hemp farmer with the CDFA, as well as the difference between seed breeders and cultivators. This second part of our hemp farm guidance series will provide detail about the importation and movement of industrial hemp; details on manufacturing, processing, and selling industrial hemp; and tips on how to get started in this new market.
Hemp Importation Guidelines from the CDFA
Obviously, the first step in starting a hemp farm (after registering with the CDFA) is to procure hemp seeds. Remember, there are some conflicting laws at the federal level in regards to the legality of growing hemp. It’s not possible to import seeds from outside the US to California, per federal regulation from the USDA. However, California state law does not have any restrictions to the importation of industrial hemp seeds or plants from other states into California.
The CDFA requires all industrial hemp seeds and plants to pass plant pest quarantines, and may inspect your hemp seeds further at their discretion. Likewise, the California Food and Agriculture code requires that registered growers and seed breeders only grow hemp varieties from an approved list of seed cultivars. Of course, this regulation does not apply to seed breeders developing new seed cultivars.
Selling Hemp in California
Where can you sell the hemp you grow on your farm? It’s possible to sell hemp through the California Farmers’ Market (CFM) Program. You must first be certified as producer through the CDFA's CFM Program. You may also be able to sell hemp in a licensed cannabis retail store; however, cannabis retailers are governed by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (not the CDFA). Therefore, you should get in touch with the BCC to be sure you meet the cannabis industry’s strict regulations before adding hemp to a cannabis dispensary.
Starting a Hemp Farm in California
By some estimates, more than 25,000 products can be made from hemp. Hemp is used in everything from the automotive industry to personal care products. California is a leader in the hemp market: California companies earn 77% of nationwide sales of hemp food and personal care products.
Hemp is a plant that thrives in California’s environment. It does well in warm weather, and grows best in well-drained, highly organic soil. Experts recommend planting hemp seeds directly in the ground, rather than starting the plants in a pot and transplanting them later on. You will need a lot of space: for hemp to be profitable, you must plant at least 50 acres. Besides space, hemp has relatively few other needs. It’s resistant to pests and diseases, and grows fast and tall, minimizing the need for hand cultivation. Estimates from a recent Cornell University analysis found that hemp profits ranged from $130 to $730 per acre.
A good way to get started in California’s hemp industry is to go to a workshop by the California Hemp Association to learn about the constantly changing forms, fees, and regulations and other information coming from the CDFA and the USDA.
You should also speak to our experts about the registration process and to get your taxes in order before entering this new market. Click the button below to get started.
The CDFA recently released guidance concerning the industrial hemp market in California.
There has been a lot of confusion surrounding the regulations of this plant.
In this two part series, we’ll break down the state’s policy regarding hemp, as well as give you some insider tips for entering this new market successfully.
What is the difference between hemp and cannabis?
To begin, it’s important to establish the key difference between cannabis and hemp.
Cannabis is a “family of plants with two classifications – Indica and Sativa.” Hemp is a member of the Cannabis Sativa family.
As a result, hemp contains a very low concentration of THC. Marijuana, which is considered a member of either the Indica or Sativa families, has concentrations of THC between 15% - 40%.
The state of California has a very specific definition of what qualifies as hemp vs. cannabis.
According to the CDFA:
“Industrial hemp" means a crop that is limited to types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. having no more than three-tenths of 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops, whether growing or not; the seeds of the plant; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin produced therefrom.”
Why should you start a hemp farm?
Unlike cannabis, which is still classified as a Federal Schedule I Controlled Substance (subject to the 280E regulation), hemp is not federally regulated. The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 went into effect at the beginning of this year, thereby removing hemp from the list of federally controlled substances. This is a new market that isn’t subject to the same strict financial and tax codes of the cannabis market.
Simultaneously, in September, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed and approved Senate Bill 1409 which permits the cultivation of industrial hemp by California growers. Before this bill was signed into law, only growers who qualified under the state’s pilot program and the Agricultural Act of 2014 could cultivate industrial hemp.
The cannabis market is a tightly regulated, highly competitive space. Licensing limits and zoning restrictions make it expensive and difficult for new entrants to gain traction in this billion dollar market. Industrial hemp, however, presents an alternative opportunity for cultivators to participate in the cannabis market without the high barriers to entry.
Commercial Cultivation of Hemp in California
California state law as it relates to hemp cultivation is a little hard to parse. The reason for this is the state regulations don’t align perfectly with the federal regulations that deregulate hemp as a controlled substance.
California may allow for commercial hemp cultivation, but conflicting articles in the 2018 and 2014 Farm Bill do not.
The previous 2014 Farm Bill does not permit the cultivation of hemp for “purely commercial” reasons. However, the 2018 Farm Bill deregulates commercial hemp provided that states submit “hemp production plans” to the USDA.
So, in theory, California’s state plan must be reviewed and approved by the USDA – which would impact hemp cultivators down the road.
In the meantime, California has begun the process of accepting hemp cultivation registration applications – here’s what you must fill out and confirm to begin planting hemp in California.
How to Register as a Hemp Farmer in California
If you wish to become a grower of industrial hemp, the first step is to be approved by your county agricultural commissioner. You can find your county ag commissioner’s office on this map provided by the CDFA.
Unlike the commercial cannabis market, there is no state registration required to grow industrial hemp. Prospective growers only need to complete a county registration to grow industrial hemp. Applications for both seed breeders and growers can be found on the CDFA Industrial Hemp Program website. The registration fee is $900 and registration is valid for one year.
Applications for commercial cultivation and seed breeding don’t vary dramatically. Generally speaking, you will be asked to provide basic information about the business owner, the cultivation site, your business plan, GPS coordinates, and other site information.
Some counties are not accepting hemp applications. These counties include: Amador, Calaveras, Glenn, Humboldt, Lassen, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.
Hemp Seed Breeders v. Cultivators
There are two potential ways to participate in California’s hemp market: as a hemp seed breeder or as a hemp cultivator.
If you plan to cultivate hemp for commercial purposes, you should fill out the application for growers. If you plan to cultivate industrial hemp for seed development or production, you should complete the application for breeders. If you wish to do both, complete both applications.
In Part 2 of our Guide on How to Start a Hemp Farm in California, we’ll outline more detail about the importation and movement of industrial hemp; details on manufacturing, processing, and selling industrial hemp; and tips on how to establish your hemp business and get started in this market successfully.
To speak to one of our experts with any questions regarding the hemp industry, click the button below to get started.
As we mentioned in this week’s cannabis update, today, April 8 is the first day Marina, California will be accepting cannabis license applications.
Here’s what you need to know about the process and how to submit a cannabis application in Marina.
Application Period and Submission Details
Marina’s City Council has a 60-day application period, from April 8 to June 3, 2019. The following number of licenses will be issued:
Dispensary Application Details and Requirements
Prospective cannabis dispensary owners can find the application details and documents on the Marina city website. Only complete applications will be considered by the city; you must include the following documents:
Phase 1: Determination of Eligibility
Businesses in Phase 1 must pay a fee of $8,000 with their Dispensary Permit Application. These fees will go toward background checks and staff time, and any unused fees will be returned to candidates who don’t make it through all three phases.
When submitting your Phase 1 application, provide all materials in 2 (duplicate) three-ring binder and one flash drive, with everything in PDF format. Create a separate tab for each section of the application (e.g. Business Plan, Security Plan, etc.). Payment can be made in the form of personal check, certified check, cashiers check, or money order – no cash or credit cards.
Your application must include the following sections:
Phase 2 and Phase 3
Phase 1 applicants must meet the eligibility criteria by demonstrating how they will operate in compliance with local laws and regulations. If you can show that you have read and understood the cannabis restrictions, then you will move to Phase 2. Phase 2 applicants are evaluated on their Live Scan results, completeness of their application, proposed location, and two key documents:
Finally, Phase 4 is the Final Ranking and Issuance of Cannabis Dispensary Application Conditional Use Permits, and Cannabis Business Licenses. Operators who are through to this round must pay a second fee of $7000 and be able to apply for an Cannabis Dispensary Application Conditional Use Permit and license to engage in a commercial cannabis business. Qualified applicants from the initial ranking may amend and combine their applications to optimize their scores.
Non-Dispensary Application Details and Requirements
Non-dispensary commercial cannabis businesses are also eligible to apply for permits during this window. Like dispensaries, these businesses will be evaluated in four phases which includes the following criteria and fees.
Phase 1: Determination of Eligibility
Businesses in Phase 1 must pay a fee of $8,000 with their Non-Dispensary Permit Application. These fees will go toward background checks and staff time, and any unused fees will be returned to candidates who don’t make it through all three phases.
When submitting your Phase 1 application, provide all materials in 2 (duplicate) three-ring binder and one flash drive, with everything in PDF format. Create a separate tab for each section of the application (e.g. Business Plan, Security Plan, etc.). Payment can be made in the form of personal check, certified check, cashiers check, or money order – no cash or credit cards.
Your application must include the following sections:
Phase 2 and Phase 3
Phase 1 applicants must meet the eligibility criteria by demonstrating how they will operate in compliance with local laws and regulations. If you can show that you have read and understood the cannabis restrictions, then you will move to Phase 2.
Phase 2 applicants are evaluated on their Live Scan results, completeness of their application, proposed location, and two key documents:
Finally, Phase 4 is the Final Ranking and Issuance of Cannabis Non-Retail Application Administrative Use Permits. Operators who are through to this round must pay a second fee of $3000 and be able to apply for an Administrative Use Permit. “The top applicants equal to the number of licenses available will be eligible for a Cannabis Non-Retail Application Administrative Use Permit and license to engage in a commercial cannabis business.”
Cannabis Zoning Verification Letter
Applicants must obtain an approved Cannabis Zoning Verification Letter (CZVL) from the Planning Division of the Community Development Department in City Hall located at 209 Cypress Avenue, Marina, CA 93933 prior to submitting a CCB application. This letter verifies that your proposed business location meets the city’s requirements. You must send a written request; CZVL’s will not be completed over the counter to allow time for research and review.
Plan ahead to get the CZVL: Marina’s review process takes approximately 15 working days. A CZVL costs $200.00 and payment is due at the time a CZVL is requested.
Get Help Today
While three months seems like enough time to complete a cannabis application, time is of the essence.
Get in touch with our experts by clicking the button below and we can assist you in putting together a strong application in Marina, California.
Each week, our experts get lots of questions about California’s seller’s permit. How do you get one? Who needs one? What does the application ask for? Is it separate from every other permit and license? There seems to be a lot of confusion out there surrounding the seller’s permit, which is required not just for cannabis operators. With this guide, we hope to answer many of these questions and provide some insight into how the CDTFA evaluates the cannabis seller’s permit.
California Seller’s Permit: Required Information
If you are doing business in California and intend to sell or lease tangible personal property subject to sales tax sold at retail, you are required to have a seller's permit. Likewise, you have to prominently display your permit at your place of business. Basically, anyone working in the cannabis market in California needs a seller’s permit.
For a California state seller’s permit, you must apply online with the following details:
As a cannabis operator, you also need to submit:
If you have a business partner or if your cannabis operation is managed by corporate officers or limited liability company managers or partners, you will be asked to include some of their information in addition to your own.
The seller’s permit is different from your cannabis tax permit or cannabis business license. If you are a distributor of cannabis and cannabis products, you must obtain a SEPARATE cannabis tax permit in addition to your seller’s permit.
You can apply for your seller’s permit on an open basis. There is no deadline or application window to apply for your seller’s permit. The online system guides you through the whole process and lets you know what documents you need to submit. There are also a handful of field offices you can visit where the CDTFA will walk you through the application process. If you go in-person, you get your permit right when you finish applying. Unlike the cannabis licenses, you are not being ranked against other cannabis companies.
However, you must apply for a cannabis business permit before attaining your seller’s permit. The seller’s permit application will ask you for a cannabis license number. Start with your state and local licenses before spending the time and resources to obtain your seller’s permit.
For help with any licensing matter, get in touch with our experts.
Last week, we covered some key findings for cultivators, distributors, and retailers released in the California Cannabis Advisory Committee 2018 Annual Report. The CAC provides recommendations o the California’s cannabis licensing authorities, and helps set forth priorities when it comes to the standards and regulations of the cannabis market.
Today, we’ll outline what the CAC recommended for Manufacturers, Licensing Applications, Microbusiness and Enforcement. It’s important to keep an eye on this committee, as they can have direct impact on the regulatory environment for your cannabis operation. Here’s what the committee accomplished last year.
CAC Subcommittee for Manufacturers
Last year, the Advisory Council’s Subcommittee on Manufacturers made a total of four recommendations. The licensing authorities moved forward to implement two of these recommendations, partially implemented a third, and declined to implement one.
Please note that the CDPH website has been updated to include more than 20 FAQs on packaging and labeling as well as some additional checklists to come. The CDPH intends to release a revised set of checklists, updated FAQs and an illustrative guide after adoption of the permanent regulations.
CAC Subcommittee for Licensing Applications
This subcommittee specifically addressed the risk of large, consolidated cannabis operators dominating California’s nascent cannabis market. The Subcommittee for Licensing Applications was primarily concerned with adding transparency to the licensing process; offering financial relief and lowering barriers to entry for new applicants; encouraging marketing stability; and protecting the health and safety of workers in the cannabis industry. As a result, the Subcommittee had four recommendations which were adopted by the committee, of which two were implemented, one was partially implemented, and not implemented one.
CAC Subcommittee for Microbusinesses
Cannabis microbusinesses are operators that meet a minimum of three out of four of these allowed commercial cannabis activities:
The Subcommittee for Microbusiness offered four recommendations, of which one was partially implemented and three were not implemented.
CAC Subcommittee on Enforcement
Last, but not least, the Subcommittee on Enforcement is dedicated to improving public safety and protecting the business interests of the cannabis operator. They strive to “ensure that there is a balance between allowing for the feasible operation of cannabis businesses while deterring illegal and criminal activities.”
The Subcommittee adopted five recommendations; in response, the licensing authorities implemented two, partially implemented one, and declined to implement two.
If you have any questions about the CAC or their policy recommendations, please get in touch with our experts. You can also read the full 2018 Annual Report, which covers every Subcommittee statement, to see more about how the regulations in California continue to evolve.
California’s Cannabis Advisory Committee (CAC) released their 2018 Annual Report earlier this month. Within the annual report are recommendations and suggestions for policy related to the adult-use cannabis market.
The CAC provides recommendations and advice to the California state cannabis licensing authorities. The committee gives feedback which directly informs the standards and regulations for the state’s cannabis market. The stated goal of the CAC is to reduce and eliminate the cannabis black market, so this advisory group should be advising the state with your business interests in mind. It’s important to pay attention to what this group advises, given that they will have a direct impact on the growth of adult-use cannabis in California.
CAC has established 10 subcommittees related to specific parts of the cannabis market. The subcommittees include: Cultivators, Distributors, Enforcement, Equity, Licensing Application, Manufacturers, Microbusiness, Public Health and Youth, Retailers, and Testing Laboratories. In 2018, the subcommittees made 79 subcommittee recommendations, 47 of which were adopted by the CAC.
We’ll cover the subcommittee recommendations which were adopted by CAC in a three-part series. This first part includes adopted recommendations by Cultivators, Distributors, and Retailers.
CAC Subcommittee for Cultivators
The Subcommittee for Cultivators made five recommendations this year, two of which were fully implemented by the California state cannabis authorities. One has been partially adopted. The recommendations included:
CAC Subcommittee for Distributors
The Subcommittee on Distributors had four adopted by the CAC committee at large. Of the adopted recommendations, the licensing authorities have implemented two. These were the recommendations the Subcommittee for Distributors made this year.
CAC Subcommittee for Retailers
Last but not least, the Subcommittee on Retailers made a total of nine recommendations. Of these, one was adopted by the committee and has been partially implemented by California’s state licensing authorities.
That recommendation was related to methods of delivery. The Subcommittee asked to clarify and simplify methods of delivery, including:
This ask was only partially implemented by the Bureau.
Overall, it’s important to know that the California Cannabis Advisory Committee has your business interests in mind when making policy recommendations to state regulators. They’ve made some significant changes to the original adult-use cannabis regulatory environment. If you have feedback for them, you can contact the CAC through the Bureau of Cannabis Control or talk to one of our experts by clicking to get started. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our coverage of the 2018 CAC Annual Report.
Carson City, California has once again opened the application window for commercial cannabis business permits. Applications are due on February 14, 2019 at 5PM.
Carson City uses a slightly different permit process than many other California cities. The City intends to issue four licenses for “cannabis centers,” which could hold multiple licenses for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, testing and distribution. A cannabis center may host multiple cannabis operators – and when you prepare your application you must include all cannabis operators in one “parcel,” or permit application. Each operator must also submit separate supplemental application materials depending on their type of cannabis operation (distribution, testing, cultivation, etc.).
Given all the moving parts involved in gathering your application materials (which are extensive), filling out the supplemental forms, and making sure all your operators are in compliance with the City’s regulations, we suggest working with an outside firm to give your application the best chance of approval. Don’t be fooled: February 14 will be here before you know it!
Here’s what’s new in the Carson City, California cannabis center permit application.
Carson City Cannabis Licensing Process
Carson City’s main cannabis licensing application can be found here. The city has also issued a set of application instructions that you can refer to here. The instructions provide a sample breakdown of what your application should include, as well as some scoring guidelines which may prove helpful in putting together a thorough submission.
In addition to the main application, cannabis operators must submit separate supplemental material depending on their role in the cannabis industry:
Applicants must also submit the following additional forms:
Main Cannabis Application
There are 13 suggested sections the City will evaluate in the main cannabis application. The city has assigned a maximum possible points they will use to score each section. This should help guide you in putting together the strongest possible submission. Read the main application and supplemental materials carefully to be sure you are meeting the requirements under each section.
Section 1: Application and Documents
Section 2: Operation Plan (400 pts)
Section 3: Security Plan (300 pts)
Section 4: Health and Safety Plan (300 pts)
Section 5: Impact on the Environment (150 pts)
The application should state and describe the extent to which the Cannabis Business will engage in “green” business practices. Describe practices designed with a focus towards renewable energy techniques, water and power conservation measures and environmentally responsible waste management.
Section 6: Neighborhood Compatibility (200 pts)
The application should state and describe the extent to which the Cannabis Business will be managed to avoid becoming a nuisance or creating negative impacts on its neighbors and the surrounding community. Describe measures designed to create good neighbor policies, public relations techniques and nuisance mitigation.
Section 7: Employment Opportunities for City of Carson Residents (150 pts)
The application should state and describe the extent to which the Cannabis Business will be a locally managed enterprise whose owners and/or employees reside within the Carson and/or South Bay area.
Section 8: Economic Benefits (150 pts)
The application should state and describe the extent to which the Cannabis Business will be a direct and/or indirect economic benefit to the City of Carson.
Section 9: Community Benefits (150 pts)
The application should state and describe the extent to which the Cannabis Business seeks
to be an integral part of the City of Carson. Describe how the Cannabis Business proposes to develop and maintain community engagement through programs and economic incentives. For help on this section, check out our recent guide to strengthening your community benefits section.
Section 10: Experience of the Operators, Managers, and Employees (200 pts)
The application should include information concerning any special business or professional
qualification or licenses of Owners that would add to the number or quality of services that the
business would provide, especially (if applicable) in areas related to medicinal cannabis. Describe background of operators, managers and employees, as well as, if applicable,
industry specific training and experience.
Section 11: Capitalization of the Business (100 pts)
Section 12: Educational Plans (100 pts)
The application should state and describe the extent to which the Cannabis Business will develop and maintain community focused educational opportunities, possibly including general health risks associated with cannabis use, youth addiction and drug prevention programs, and measures to reduce risks associated with minors.
Section 13: Promotion of Equitable Business Ownership and Employment Opportunities (100 pts)
The application should include a proposed plan to develop a social equity program designed to ensure the Cannabis Business is diverse and inclusive. Describe how the Cannabis Business will engage in proactive efforts to hire partners and employees from marginalized communities and /or rehabilitated persons.
This is obviously a ton of information to compile – in addition to the supplemental application material found in Appendix A – so start this process sooner rather than later!
Carson City Application Review and Assessment
Once you submit your application, the Carson City staff will have a 90 day review period. The first review is to determine that your application complies with the Carson Municipal Code. If you are found compliant, your application will move to the Cannabis Permit Committee.
If your application is not compliant, within 60 days you will receive notice that your application is missing some required information. You may be given 30 days to resubmit; if your resubmission continues to be non-compliant, or you fail to meet the new 30 day deadline, your application will be “deemed abandoned” and you may start over.
Then, a Cannabis Permit Committee review the application for merit (based on the scoring outlined above). The Merit List is submitted to the City Council, who will then review the recommendations at a public meeting. The City Council makes the decision on whether to issue a Cannabis Center a permit based on Merit List criteria. If you do receive a permit, then your cannabis operation will enter a Development Agreement with the city planning council.
Carson City Cannabis Application Fees
The initial application deposit is $20,000. This is down from last year’s initial deposit of $25,000.
Need help preparing your application? Get advice from our licensing and finance experts who have helped dozens of cannabis operators in California.
Two laws were passed in 2018 related to California’s cannabis industry that go into effect this month (January 2019). Assembly Bill 1793 and AB 3067 are two recent regulations that cannabis entrepreneurs in this growing market need to know about to protect their business interests.
Assembly Bill 1793
This bill adjusts existing legislation related to the identification, review, and notification of anyone who might be able to have a prior cannabis-related conviction dismissed. Under AB1793, the California Department of Justice must comply with a timeline for reviewing records and past convictions for those eligible for a dismissal or re-designation. In addition, there is a deadline of July 1, 2020 by which the DOJ will be automatically required to reduce or dismiss certain cannabis-related charges or convictions.
For your cannabis business, this can have an impact on how/who you hire, the competitive landscape, and the social equity programs available in Los Angeles and other cities.
Assembly Bill 3067
AB 3067 has a more direct impact on your day to day business operations as a cannabis business owner. When Prop 64 was passed, it included protections for individuals under 21 and prevented companies from marketing directly to those underage. However, the provision included a loophole. The regulation restricted marketing on broadcast, cable, radio, print, and digital advertising of cannabis, but not all cannabis products.
AB 3067 adds to this regulation “any cannabis, cannabis product, cannabis business, or any instrument or paraphernalia that is designed for the smoking or ingestion of cannabis to the list of products and services subject to the Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World (PRCMDC).”
Previously using an images of minors under 18 in your marketing was not allowed. Now, images of anyone under the age of 21 are not allowed. Likewise, cannabis operators are not permitted to disclose a minor’s information to a third party for marketing purposes. This makes it harder for advertisers of cannabis and cannabis products to reach internet and app users under the age of 21.
If you have questions about either of these regulations, please get in touch with our experts.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) has, on several occasions, released guidelines regarding required cannabis testing. This means that if you are legally operating a cannabis business, you need to adhere to these guidelines in order to meet state requirements. Per the BCC’s guidelines, there are three categories that cannabis and cannabis products fall under: inhalable cannabis, inhalable cannabis products, and other cannabis and cannabis products.
Cannabis Operator Responsibility
It is every responsible commercial cannabis business operator’s duty to ensure that all their cannabis and cannabis products are tested, and, if sold, have passed these tests. Cultivators must have their product tested through their distribution partners, and retailers must ensure the products they are selling to the public have passed all quality control tests. Providing the patients and customers with safe, effective, potent, and high-quality cannabis and cannabis products should be every operator’s number one priority. Lifting the stigma of cannabis can be done with responsible cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, sale and administration of safe and effective cannabis and cannabis products.
Roll Out Dates
Since the roll out date for all legal cannabis facilities and business was January 1, 2018, the BCC provided three phases for various test types that all cannabis and cannabis products must undergo. The first phase covers all cannabis and cannabis products that were harvested and manufactured beginning January 1, 2018. The second phase began on July 1, 2018, and the third phase will begin on December 31, 2018. The third phase will require that all three cannabis and cannabis product categories to undergo the comprehensive battery of tests in order to comply with state regulations.
As we come to the end of 2018, please make sure you are compliant with the BCC testing regulations. Since annual state licenses will be the focus of the BCC activity in 2019, we expect little to no changes to their existing testing requirements.
To recap, the comprehensive battery of cannabis and cannabis product test types have been spread out over three phases as follows:
Phase I: January 1, 2018
Moisture Content Testing
Category II Residual Solvents and Processing Chemicals Testing
Category I Residual Pesticides Testing
Microbial Impurities Testing (A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, and A. terreus)
Microbial Impurities Testing (Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp.)
Homogeneity Testing of Edible Cannabis Products
Phase II: July 1, 2018
Category I Residual Solvents and Processing Chemicals Testing
Category II Residual Pesticides Testing
Foreign Material Testing
Phase III: December 31, 2018
Heavy Metals Testing
Water Activity Testing of Solid or Semi-Solid Edibles
Inhalable Cannabis Products
Other Cannabis and Cannabis Products
If your cannabis and/or cannabis products fail to pass the required testing and cannot be remedied, then, according to State Regulations, the entire batch must be destroyed. This obviously has an impact on your bottom line: cutting losses means implementing industry best practices. We recommend you continually engage the services of testing laboratories at fundamentally significant steps in the cultivation and manufacturing process. This could potentially save your cannabis and cannabis products from failing tests and destruction.
If you are a commercial cannabis operator and need assistance and/or guidance with compliance, contact a team member today. Part of every operator’s responsibility is to meet state regulations and incorporate best industry practices into your operations.
What does it take to get your California cannabis cultivation license? In this extremely competitive licensing environment, knowing the full process for getting a cannabis cultivation license is important. Here’s a summary of the licensing requirements for cultivation.
Who issues the annual state cultivation licenses?
There are three distinct agencies involved in issuing the California annual cultivation license. They are:
Each of these agencies oversees various aspects necessary for the issuance of an annual license. CalCannabis actually grants the license, but there are essential requirements an applicant needs to secure from the other two agencies to submit a complete application with the Department of Food and Agriculture.
.Processor: Conducts only trimming, drying, curing, grading, or packaging of cannabis and non-manufactured cannabis products
Nursery: No size limit defined in statute (no canopy.
*Large licenses will not be issued until 2023. Note that greenhouses with dirt floors are considered Outdoor Facilities.
How do you apply for a license?
You may submit an application for a cultivation license at any time. Here are some of the general requirements for the California cultivation license application:
Other things you may need to submit include:
Applicants must submit to the Department of Fish and Wildlife any final lake or streambed alteration agreement or a written verification from CDFW that an agreement is not required.
When you are granted a license, you will be required to train your team to use the California Cannabis Track and Trace System within 10 days of receiving your license. Licensees are also required to order UID tags from the Department of Food and Agriculture within five days of completing their CCTT training.
For more resources and help applying for the cultivation license, read this guide and get in touch with our experts.
California’s permanent cannabis regulations were reportedly finalized on Monday, December 3, although operators may not be privy to the new regulations until January 2019. State officials have decided not to make the rules public until the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) has finished conducting its review.
The news is frustrating, but it also makes it hard to prepare your business for the potential impact of the permanent cannabis regulations. Here’s what we know about the most recent draft of California’s permanent marijuana business regulations – and how you can prepare for 2019.
What are California’s permanent cannabis business regulations?
The permanent business regulations related to the cannabis industry are joint effort of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Food and Agriculture, and Department of Public Health. The regulations cover a variety of issues related to cannabis, including delivery, packaging, and events.
Experts who have studied the proposed regulations warn that these rules will hurt current operators. Here are a few of the key changes that may affect your business.
End to Contract Manufacturing
All licensed companies could be barred from doing business with a commercial cannabis company lacking a license.
Contract manufacturing, commonly known as white labeling or co-packaging, is a way for licensed manufacturers to produce and package products for those businesses that are still unlicensed. We see this partnership commonly with celebrity-endorsed brands or an established cannabis company that has a production facility located in a municipality which does not allow for commercial cannabis. This is simply the best way to do business for many operators who are hamstrung by the varied cannabis allowances from county to county. If this rule ends up as part of the final regulations, it could put many contract manufacturers out of business.
New Delivery Regulations
The proposed rules reduce the amount of cannabis product a single delivery vehicle can transport from $10,000 to $5,000.
The economics of this rule change could have big implications for licensed cannabis operators. Currently, the $10,000 limit allows for drivers to leave for their delivery window with one order for $100 and $9,900 in additional product to fulfill orders as they come in. However, the rule change forces drivers to leave with at least $2,000 in product designated for orders already placed. This leaves just $3,000 available for fulfilling orders while on the go.
Obviously, this severely restricts the sales opportunities for delivery operators and damages the customer experience. Slower service is bad for business, and the higher overhead of making more trips to and from the delivery hub could put some companies in the red.
New Disclosures for Business Owners
If you have a cannabis business license or own a financial stake in a cannabis venture in California, you will be reclassified as a “salesperson” or “consultant” under the proposed California cannabis business regulations. Why is this important?
The key to this rule is the part where any employee who has a say in what the business should sell, manufacture, or cultivate will be considered an owner. More individuals will therefore have to file state disclosure paperwork. Logistically, this becomes a bureaucratic nightmare. What’s even more concerning is this provision could amount to a ban on silent partners, with big implications for those ventures still seeking funding.
How to Prepare for California’s New Regulations
Until January, we won’t know which of these proposed regulatory changes made it into the permanent bill. However, it’s prudent to start preparing your business now. Talk to your silent investors to make sure they’re aware of the changes in disclosures. If you need to find a new investor for your cannabis business, it’s better to start now.
If you run a delivery service, take a look at your operating budget to see if you have space to hire extra vehicles and drivers. You can also prepare your customers by asking for minimum orders or changing up the checkout process in incremental changes. Minimize the disruption to the user experience by making small adjustments to your delivery service ahead of time.
Finally, if you’re working with a contract manufacturer, protect your business by seeking a plan B partner. Lock up relationships with other licensed operators now, as competition is only going to get steep.
For more on the proposed regulations, get in touch with our experts today.
At the polls earlier this month, voters across the US weighed in on a number of measures related to cannabis. For California voters, midterm results were overwhelmingly in favor of the new adult-use cannabis industry, a good sign for anyone hoping to grow their business venture.
There were about 50 tax measures across the California’s ballots, the majority of which were approved by voters. While more taxes may not necessarily seem like a positive thing to budding entrepreneurs, this is a sign that local governments intend to welcome the cannabis industry and help it grow. It’s to their benefit for businesses to do well, as a local municipality can benefit from the resulting tax revenue.
As we go into 2019, here are the new cannabis taxes that companies in California need to pay to stay compliant with state and local laws.
San Francisco: Proposition D
In San Francisco, voters approved Proposition D, the Marijuana Business Tax Increase. This measure will impose taxes on cannabis ventures that do business in the city, regardless of whether or not their physical site is located there. The tax rates are:
These taxes go into effect in January, 2021 and do not apply to the first $500,000 of recreational cannabis gross receipts. Medical cannabis retail sales are also exempt from this tax. Revenue from this particular tax is expected to reach $5 - $12 million, money which will go into the city’s general use fund.
Emeryville: Measure S
Emeryville, California voters passed Measure S, a Marijuana Business Tax similar to the one in San Francisco. The business tax measure levies a cannabis business tax of up to 6% of gross receipts. The goal is to generate $2 million in revenue for unrestricted governmental use. This is quite a big leap for Emeryville, as previously cannabis companies paid 0.10% of annual gross receipts, or $25, whichever was greater. The ballot measure does not say when this increased tax rate will go into effect.
Oakland: Measure V
Oakland, California went in a bit of a different direction when it came to voting on cannabis taxes this November. Voters decided to lower their existing cannabis business tax – though the municipality previously had one of the highest tax rates in the state. Recreational cannabis was taxed at 10%, while medical cannabis companies had a 5% tax rate. Small operators were having a hard time competing in the market with cities nearby charging lower taxes.
Measure V was approved by voters to give the Oakland City Council the authority to lower cannabis tax rates through a forthcoming ordinance. The measure also allows cannabis companies to deduct the cost of raw materials from their gross receipts. On the federal level the 280E regulation prevents cannabis companies from doing this on their tax returns.
Lastly, this ballot measure allows local cannabis businesses to pay their taxes on a quarterly basis, instead of one annual payment at the beginning of the year. From a tax perspective, Oakland is looking more attractive than ever to entrepreneurs looking to enter the cannabis industry.
Lake County: Measure K
Lake County’s Measure K Marijuana Business Tax was approved by a majority vote this November. This measure goes into effect January 1, 2021 and changes the following taxes:
Read the full text of the measure to determine where you call in the two tax brackets.
Mountain View: Measure Q
Mountain View’s Measure Q applies to the maximum of four cannabis businesses allowed to operate in Mountain View, per their permitting regulations. This approved ballot measure imposes up to 9% tax on gross receipts of cannabis businesses. The money will go into a fund for “general city purposes,” estimated to grow to $1 million in annual revenue.
Lompoc: Measure D
2018 Lompoc, California voters approved Measure D2018 with the following tax rates to cannabis companies:
Riverbank: Measure B
Last but not least, Riverbank voters approved Measure B. This is an interesting step for a municipality that does not currently permit cannabis businesses to operate within their jurisdiction. But, by passing this ballot measure, voters have indicated they are open to allowing adult-use cannabis businesses to operate in the future. Measure B permits Riverbank’s City Council to issue a tax of up to 10% of gross receipts on cannabis businesses operating in the future. Built into the tax are incentives which give the city a cut of any illegal cannabis business earnings. Despite this relatively high tax rate, keep an eye on Riverbank in the future for indications that they may be open to permitting recreational cannabis businesses to operate.
If you have any questions about these tax related measures, get in touch with our experts.
Updated December 6, 2018
Last September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed and approved Senate Bill 1409 which permits the cultivation of industrial hemp by California growers. Prior to its approval, only growers that qualified in the Pilot Program, and the Agricultural Act of 2014, could cultivate Industrial Hemp.
With SB 1409, starting January 1, 2019, individuals interested to grow industrial hemp are able to do so under the following conditions:
Research and development will be permitted in developing a new cultivar that must be certified by a seed certifying agency. The Department will require research and developers to outline and implement security and anti-diversion measures to prevent the unlawful use of industrial hemp or seed cultivars, as well as procedures for maintenance of records documenting the development of new seed cultivars.
Industrial hemp is used to produce more than 25,000 products. This means that it could be an alternative resource for products we use on a daily basis—that has a smaller impact on the environment.
If you want to know more about industrial hemp, its uses, and how to become a grower in California, contact a team member today!
Recently, California joined the growing list of states that have passed some level of pro-hemp legislation in the past few years. Bill SB 1409 was passed to open the doors to growing the state’s industrial hemp industry. Here’s what you need to know about the legislation – as well as three things to do now to start making money on hemp.
What is the Hemp Bill SB 1409?
California’s Hemp Bill, SB 1409, was signed into law by Governor Brown to go into effect on January 1, 2019. This bill adds an industrial hemp pilot program to the state’s legal cannabis industry. As it stands right now, the cultivation of hemp is regulated because of its classification as a “fiber or oilseed crop” under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act that can only be grown by approved hemp seed cultivators. The list of approved cultivators hasn’t been added to since January 1, 2013. Every year, growers of industrial hemp register with a county agricultural commissioner and pay a renewal fee.
SB 1409 opens the possibility of becoming an industrial hemp seed cultivator to others who haven’t been certified before January 1, 2013. Industrial hemp is no longer going to be considered a fiber or oilseed crop. This doesn’t necessarily mean CBD food products can be sold; in fact, a recent release from the California Department of Public Health banned the sale of CBD food products. We’re still waiting to see how hemp will be regulated as we approach 2019.
Interestingly, SB 1409 also authorizes the California Department of Food and Agriculture to begin an “agricultural or academic research” pilot program for industrial hemp. Colorado and Oregon have carried out similar programs to help inform and structure their regulatory systems. Hemp remains illegal at the federal level, yet more than 30 states have passed some kind of pro-hemp legislation to date.
How to Make Money on Hemp
Obviously, there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to California’s future regulation of industrial hemp. In addition, seed cultivator applicants won’t be permitted to submit a license request until January 2019. However, here are three things you can do now to get a first slice of California’s legal industrial hemp industry.
Find your niche.
Hemp has a wide range of uses: over 25,000 known uses, to be exact. It can be used in building materials, fabric and textiles, ink, skin lotion, and shoes, and the seeds are a great source of nutrition. If you want to make money off hemp products, the first course of action is to zero in on how you want to use hemp. Hemp-based consumer products, food/nutrition products, and pharmaceuticals are the most common industries, and probably the most accessible for new entrepreneurs. Hemp seeds are very nutritious: they contain a big dose of omega-3 fatty acids and are a better source of good protein than chia seeds or flax seeds. Hemp seeds are also known to contain a good portion of vitamin E and minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.
Keep in mind that with food product, pharmaceuticals, or beauty products, you may have to comply with FDA or FTC regulations in addition to California state compliance laws. Do your consumer research now to see whether your hemp fortune lies in nutrition or nail polish.
Start creating distribution channels.
Just because you can’t start growing hemp in 2018 doesn’t mean you can’t start creating your own distribution channels. Start to recruit customers for your niche product by building a brand presence online. Pick a topic, make a website, and start promoting or endorsing hemp products that already (legally) exist on the market. Becoming an expert in all things hemp will serve you well both on the customer and supplier side. Customers want someone they can trust to help them navigate the new hemp market. Hemp farmers want help recruiting customers to their product. It’s a win win for you and your suppliers.
Look for land.
If you do intend to become an independent hemp farmer, you will need a lot of space. Though hemp is relatively easy to grow, it’s not easy to be profitable without planting at least 50 acres. Now is the time to start your search for the space you need in January; competition for land will only get tougher as the January 1 deadline approaches.
For more tips on getting started in the cannabis (and soon to be hemp) industry, get in touch with one of our experts.
The City of Commerce just released its Commercial Cannabis Permit Application and held its Prospective Operator Workshop. If you weren’t able to attend, here is a City of Commerce Guide to Cannabis Licensing.
The first thing you need to consider, if you haven’t already, is what kind of commercial cannabis business license you will apply for. Below is a list of the licenses the City will be issuing:
- Non-Storefront Retail Delivery
Deadlines and Fees
Once you’ve decided on what type of commercial cannabis business license to apply for, the other important things to remember are the deadlines and fees.
Applications can only be submitted in-person and by appointment. You can request an application submission appointment by emailing email@example.com. The window for application submission is from October 15-26, with the last day for application submission appointment requests on October 22.
There is a non-refundable fee of $13,025.00 application fee. If you are considering applying for a microbusiness license, the City is requiring that applicants pay an application fee for each type of activity.
According to state regulations, microbusiness can have up to four (4) specified license types and a minimum of three (3). That being the case, you will have to pay at least $39,075.00 for a microbusiness license with three (3) licensed activities.
Other fees that will need to be paid to the City that are refundable are:
Payments will be received in the form of Cashier’s Checks or Money Orders, or business checks that must be made out to the City of Commerce.
General Owner Information
Any type of license application will require owner information such as name, contact details, SSN or EIN, percentage of ownership, and other general information that should be gathered together for easy reference. There is also a brief questionnaire section that must be filled out regarding convictions, prior cannabis license revocations, etc.
You will also be required to initial statements declaring the nature of your cannabis business operations.
Qualifications and Experience
The application includes a portion where the company’s members, who have had experience in the industry, and any other relevant qualifications must be listed. It is important to showcase the strengths of each team member who will provide a sound, professional, and compliant contribution to the success of the cannabis business’ operations.
This section presents itself as a checklist of requirements you will need to put together and submit as part of the application.
The Known Premises portion refers to property that is readily available and accessible. It requires highly technical documentation that should be done by professionals, such as an architect and a certified civil engineer.
Unknown Premises refers to a proposed property that has yet to be acquired, either through a lease or purchase. Since the location is not yet finalized, this section requires information about how you will go about securing it including, finances, feasibility, and your commitment to the City.
This entire section focuses on the facility’s operating procedures that cover the following:
- Non-Laboratory Quality Control
- Point-of-Sale and Track and Trace
- Cultivation Methods
Be sure to address each requirement listed on the application for each type of license type you are applying for. Failure to do so could disqualify your application.
Every business needs a business plan- and commercial cannabis businesses are no different. Part of the City’s application requires that a business plan specifically address the day-to-day operations, compliance with local and state laws, a schedule that includes a narrative of the timeline for all proposed construction, a budget, proof of capitalization, and a pro forma for at least three (3) years of operation.
Proposed Community Benefits Program Plan
Every locality wants to know that your cannabis business will help improve the surrounding neighborhood and community. In this application, the City may require your company to engage in designated programs, provide funding to specific initiatives beyond the designated City amount, staffing plan, labor peace agreement, and maybe even take part in a Mixed-Use Development Bonus that will incubate a local small business, co-locate with another small, local business, or propose other mixed-use developments.
Disclosure of Financial Interests
You will need to disclose and provide all the information associated with groups or individuals with a financial interest in the company. These groups or individuals could be:
- Financial institutions whose interest constitutes a loan
- Those whose interest is through a diversified mutual fund, blind trust, or similar interest
- Those whose interest is through a lien, security interest or property encumbrance
- Those whose share of the company stock is less than 5%
Labor Peace Agreement
If your company will have more than 20 employees, you will need to enter into a labor peace agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UCFW). This is done to ensure that all employees receive livable wages and helps to improve the quality of their lives.
You will need to get a Seller’s Permit from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. This can be done online or in-person at any of their field offices. Registering in-person at a field office provides for same day permit issuance.
Limited Waiver of Sovereign Immunity
You will have to waive any sovereign immunity defense you or your company may have in the event that a federally recognized tribe asserts their immunity over the company and its operations.
Development Agreement Proposal
You will need to review and sign the provided Development Agreement Proposal by the City. If you feel that you disagree and/or would like to change anything, you may redline the proposal by striking through or underlining sensitive language. You will also need to prepare a narrative identifying at least five (5) topics from the agreement proposal that you propose distinguishes your application from the rest.
You may provide additional relevant information about your or your team’s involvement in the City- either as a tenant, business owner, or resident. You may include the length of time, and the total estimated contribution to the City via taxes and fees.
Provide a signed Cannabis FAQ Fact Sheet Acknowledgement Form with the application. Failure to do so could disqualify your application.
There is an Environmental Data Form and Noticing Form that must be submitted in the event that there is a need for an Environmental Impact Report.
Background Check Authorization
Don’t forget to include your Background LiveScan Authorization when submitting your application. Each owner will need to provide a signed and completed form.
Last but not the least, don’t forget to sign and date the actual application form. Getting all these documents together will be tedious and the smaller details may be overlooked. The best way to ensure that everything is done properly and efficiently could be by engaging a team of professionals to help you through this process.
If you want to get some more information about the licensing process and how a professional consultant can help you get your license, contact a team member today!
One of the elements of a good business plan is performing market research to determine your target customers. Pricing, marketing, and product selection all depend on who your key consumer groups are – and what they’re interested in purchasing in the adult-use legal cannabis market.
In some ways, consumer data is extremely limited due to the government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug. Government research that is typical of other industries is simply not performed on the cannabis market. As a result, most data we have about cannabis consumers is limited to gender, residence, and spending amounts. This can be useful in valuing your cannabis business for investors, but is less helpful for cannabis marketers hoping to build a customer persona.
While the demographics vary among cities and districts, some early trends have emerged that can help inform your cannabis business offering. Here’s what you need to know about the key cannabis consumer groups in 2018.
Who is the typical cannabis customer?
In a survey conducted by the Cannabis Consumers Coalition, the majority of respondents were between ages 21 - 35, which is not necessarily surprising. Interestingly, the second biggest group of cannabis consumers was 45 years or older, meaning cannabis consumers are likely to be professional adults. In fact, the study discovered that more than 58% of cannabis consumers are between the ages of 21 and 55. The perception that cannabis consumers are college age, unmotivated stoners is likely misguided. Cannabis customers are more likely to be working professionals, parents, and with some level of disposable income.
Aligned with the shift in age toward older cannabis consumers, the average household income of a cannabis customer has also risen. The Cannabis Consumers Coalition research indicates that cannabis consumption transcends economic class, with customers at all income levels partaking in cannabis consumption on some level. Inform your product pricing with the following data from their survey: the majority of cannabis customers have combined household incomes of $26,000 - $55,000.
What do we know about the gender of cannabis consumers? While movies like Dazed and Confused have widely popularized the impression that most cannabis consumers are male, this survey suggests the gender gap is much more narrow. Companies like Whoopi & Maya have popularized cannabis as an alternative therapy for women. Women hold nearly 30% of executive leadership positions in the cannabis industry – a significantly higher percentage than the nationwide average. When designing your marketing material, take into consideration that women make the majority of household purchasing decisions, and in the cannabis market, they will be a powerful consumer group.
Medical v. Adult-Use Cannabis Users
Though recreational cannabis is only legal in about half of the states, it’s an important trend to track for new cannabis entrepreneurs interested in entering the market. This statistic can help you understand the deeper motivation behind your customer: are they making a purchase because it’s a medical necessity, or for recreation? How frequently can you expect someone to make a repeat purchase? Diving into your customer behavior has implications for inventory management, loyalty programs, and pricing.
Data from the National Institute of Health reveals that the majority of customers partake in cannabis use for recreational reasons. Their national sample showed that among those consumers who lived in states with medical cannabis legislation, 17% used cannabis for medical reasons and 83% used it recreationally. However, those who do use cannabis medically do so with more frequency and regularity than those customers who purchase cannabis for recreational use. A good business practice would be to take medical consumers’ needs into your marketing plan, even if your primary target customer is a recreational user.
California’s Key Cannabis Consumer Groups
California has the potential to become the world’s largest cannabis market, making it a good bellwether for understanding developing consumer trends. Early studies by market research firm BDS Analytics indicates there are three key consumer groups across the state. Primary consumers in California are 39 years old and have used cannabis or cannabinoids in the past six months. A secondary group deemed “acceptors” by the study are 49 years old, and while they haven’t recently used cannabis, they would do so in the future. California’s “rejecter” group is an average of 56-years-old and are not likely to consider cannabis use.
It’s worthwhile to note that while rejecters and acceptors aren’t recent users of cannabis, that doesn’t correlate with disapproval of legal adult-use cannabis. The study showed that tolerance and acceptance of cannabis is becoming more common, and in fact, Californians are becoming more interested in the potential health benefits of cannabis use. This further reinforces the case for continuing to include medical-use customers as part of your business plan and marketing strategy.
For more insight into how to build your cannabis company, get in touch with one of the experts at GreenGrowth CPAs.
Every cannabis business operator in California is required by state laws to have insurance. There are quite a few insurance agencies and brokers that offer cannabis business-specific insurance packages. As recently as this June, California began offering property insurance for cannabis businesses. In a cash-rich industry that deals with a very valuable product, you may want to look into insurance to make sure your business is protected. Regardless, it’s up to you to make sure your insurance is meeting the state, local, and federal requirements and standards. Here’s a quick guide to your state, local, and federal insurance responsibilities as a cannabis operator in California.
California Cannabis Insurance Requirements
California requires cannabis businesses to have a minimum commercial general liability insurance policy of $2 million, with insurance of up to $1 million for each loss, when submitting a cannabis license application. The state also requires a $5,000 surety bond that should be addressed to the state of California.
Anyone who does not meet the insurance requirement will likely have their business application rejected. Likewise, if your cannabis business insurance lapses, you must take the proper steps to alert the state by notifying the Bureau of Cannabis Control in writing within 10 days.
Types of Insurance for Cannabis Companies
What other insurance do you need in California? Especially as it pertains to your cannabis licensing application, you will want to have a policy for worker’s compensation insurance for your employees. The state also requires all small businesses to have disability insurance. Our experts also suggest looking into these other types of cannabis business insurance:
To help you understand which, if any, of these additional insurance types would be most helpful for your cannabis venture, we have a guide on everything you need to know about California cannabis insurance. Check it out and get in touch with our experts if you have any questions.
Federal Insurance for Adult-Use Cannabis Businesses
Because cannabis is still considered a Schedule I drug by the DEA, there is no official requirement from the federal government requiring a cannabis business to have insurance. However, there may be other small business insurance requirements your cannabis venture needs to meet to be compliant. Health insurance is required at the federal level – one option for businesses with one to 50 employees is the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) program. Generally speaking, the federal government defers insurance requirements to be decided at the state level. As a rule of thumb – with the exception of ACA regulations, make sure you’re meeting California’s insurance requirements, and you should be compliant under US federal law.
It’s also worthwhile to note that when it comes to deducting insurance from your tax return, the regulations are a little complicated due to the 280e regulation. It really depends on your specific role in the cannabis industry – commercial general liability insurance may be deductible as a COGs for some businesses, but not for others. It’s important to check with a tax expert to make sure you’re making the right choice for your insurance deduction.
If you have more questions about cannabis insurance, please get in touch with GreenGrowth CPAs today!
The north side of California seems to be on a roll when it comes to accepting adult-use cannabis, and we proudly welcome Union City back on our list of cities now accepting commercial cannabis applications.
Union City officially re-opened their cannabis application window on Friday, August 16, so you can officially apply NOW. Union City is awarding the follow cannabis permits:
Union City is giving preference to businesses who are vertically integrated, aka any location that will have two or more uses. In addition, they are also accepting applications from applicants who submitted prior but were not awarded a permit. The city will close their application window on December 7, 2018. Today, we will discuss the application process for Union City and what you need to do to ensure you have the best chance of being awarded a cannabis permit.
There are a few documents that Union City has prepared to provide you with the most up to date information about the cannabis application process. It is suggested you read these before filling in your application.
Union City Cannabis Application Submission
All applications must be submitted online via this website. One of the perks of an online application is the ability to complete just a small portion, save it and then complete the rest at a later date. You will also be required to submit about 23 different attachments in a PDF format. These will include:
Once the Planning Manager states that the location is in the appropriate district, you can submit the zoning application to the office at 34009 Alvarado Niles Road in Union City. Once submitted, and your fee is paid, you should be expected to receive your final Zoning Verification Letter within 10 days. This letter is required to be submitted online with your application. You can find a zoning map here. Cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, testing and medicinal retail uses are able to locate within the ML (light industrial) or MS (special industrial) districts.
Keep in mind a cannabis business must be 100 feet from any youth businesses. Union City may provide some exceptions based on your business plan, so if you’d like to be within 100 feet of a youth business you must explain the reasoning clearly within the application.
You will also have to submit personal information for each principal which will include:
Important Document Details
As you upload these documents, it’s important to note a few details.
Union City Cannabis Application Fees
Each city has different protocols for application fees. Union City prefers Cashier’s Checks or Credit Cards. They will not accept cash or personal checks. Please note there is a 2.25% fee applied to credit card payments over $2,500. The application fees are:
Applicants are also encouraged to attend a city cannabis meeting on Wednesday, September 19 at 1:30pm in City Council Chambers. This will be the only and primary opportunity to discuss any application or cannabis related questions with the city staff.
If you have further questions about obtaining a cannabis permit in Union City, GreenGrowth CPAs is happy to help you walk through the process to ensure your best chances of opening a successful cannabis business.
As we covered in previous posts, finding properly-zoned real estate is one of the most important - and difficult - parts of starting a cannabis business in California. The real estate market in California is competitive already, and so-called “green zone” regulations severely restrict where cannabis businesses are allowed to operate.
Nevertheless, it’s imperative that you find real estate for your business before the city or county application window opens. Competition is simply too fierce to wait until the city announces they are ready to start approving business applications. Plan ahead to find cannabis-ready property with this quick guide on California’s cannabis zoning laws.
California’s Cannabis Zoning Laws
California state regulation SB94 allows the 482 cities and 58 counties in California to regulate land use and zoning in relation to cannabis within their jurisdictions. What this means is that cannabis zoning laws not only vary by location, but also by the type of business activity. For example, cannabis dispensaries will abide by different cannabis zoning laws than cultivators or manufacturers. Note that cities or counties with no legal cannabis activity will not provide zoning information related to cannabis businesses.
As far as growing cannabis, it can be tricky to discern regulations by city and state. Research shows that a slight majority of cities have banned outdoor cannabis gardens, while others have specific home-grow permits that may relate to smaller cannabis businesses as well.
To find a specific zoning law in your area, the Orange County Register has compiled a database of cannabis zoning laws by city and county (last updated June, 2018).
Common Cannabis Zoning Laws
Each city and county customizes their cannabis zoning laws. However, there are a few commonalities that our experts tend to see in many zoning policies. If you’re seeking property, here are some things to keep in mind:
Green zone regulations may not be announced if a city hasn’t opened their cannabis business applications yet. Regardless, it’s important to stay informed about the city’s ordinances and available commercial property. When the applications do open, be prepared by contacting California Cannabis CPAs and asking how we can help.
Recently, our experts led a webinar outlining everything you need to know to get your Los Angeles cannabis business license. If you missed it, you can listen to the full webinar on-demand. We covered many topics, including Los Angeles’ cannabis social equity program.
Los Angeles’ cannabis social equity program is a part of the city’s commercial cannabis licensing system. The goal is to give a boost to past victims of cannabis criminalization by offering assistance and benefits to any communities that were unfairly punished by the drug war. Read on for more information on how this program works and how your cannabis business might be able to participate in the program.
What is Los Angeles’ Cannabis Social Equity Program?
LA’s social equity program has the stated goal of promoting “equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry in order to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities and to address the disproportionate impacts of the war on drugs in those communities.”
The program intends to offer assistance in the form of funding, physical space, and a separate licensing timeline to any commercial cannabis licensees who meet the program criteria. Some of the program benefits as of July 2018 include:
As you can tell from some of the notes next to the listed benefits, the city is still developing the specific benefits of the cannabis social equity program.
Who qualifies for Los Angeles’ Cannabis Social Equity Program?
There are three tiers qualifications under which a prospective cannabis business owner might qualify for the social equity program.
Please note that to be eligible for the benefits of the social equity program, you must own at least one third (and for Tier 1, 51%) of the business applying for the license.
Even if you do not fall under one of the three tiers, you can qualify for the social equity program. To do so, you can either pay a fee to the city fund or agreeing to provide a small portion of your physical space to help the beneficiaries of the program.
How can I apply for Los Angeles’ Cannabis Social Equity Program?
If you recall from our webinar, Los Angeles is issuing cannabis business licenses in three phases. Phase 2 of the cannabis licensing program started on August 1 and will remain open for 30 days. During this phase, applicants must qualify under the social equity program.
You can currently apply for a Phase 2 license on the Los Angeles City cannabis page. Read this primer for instructions on how to log in to your account and submit an application. Our experts are standing by to help out if you have any questions.
For more information on getting your cannabis business license in Los Angeles, check out our webinar or read our three-part guide on cannabis in Los Angeles:
If you have specific questions related to your business, please get in touch with our experts today.
As the saying goes, there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. An addendum to this saying might be that taxes never seem to decrease over our lifetime. However, these three California cities have chosen to reduce cannabis taxes in their jurisdiction. Let’s take a look at these three cities and the rates at which they’ve reduced taxes.
Berkeley recently hired HdL Companies to audit and review current taxes for cannabis regulations. These services have resulted in a reduction of cannabis taxes within Berkeley. Medicinal sales tax was 5% and is now 2.5%. In addition, adult-use cannabis sales tax was 10% and is now 5%.
Salinas is the largest municipality of Monterey County, California. This city just reduced cannabis nursery tax rates from $15/square foot of canopy space to $2/square foot. If you’re taking the first steps toward starting a cannabis company, this might be a great jurisdiction for you to consider.
Grover Beach is a city located in San Luis Obispo County, California. The city recently reduced several taxes related to cannabis, including the cultivation tax from $25 per square foot to $5 per square foot. Manufacturing and distribution taxes have been reduced from 5% of gross receipts to 3%. All taxes for adult-use and medical cannabis remain the same.
Although Coalinga has not officially reduced any of its taxes, the city is looking into the idea of reducing cultivation taxes. The current cultivation tax costs all cannabis businesses at $25.00 per square foot for the first 3,000 square feet. It drops to $10 per square foot after that. We will see what Coalinga decides to do in terms of reducing cultivation taxes.
These three cities have reduced cannabis taxes, and depending on the long-term economic growth benefits, it’s likely that other districts could follow suit. We will keep you updated as we see additional cities make changes to their cannabis taxes.
Interested in opening a cannabis business of your own within one of these California cities? Contact California Cannabis CPAs today.
On June 27, 2017, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) passed and provided a framework for cannabis activity and sales within California. In June of 2018, cannabis licensing authorities enacted emergency regulations ensuring a set of rules were in place for the continuance of MAUCRSA.
Now, California’s cannabis licensing authorities are proposing permanent rules to take the place of the emergency regulations. California’s three state cannabis licensing authorities will further define these rules. They are:
The emergency regulations that went into effect June 6, 2018 will stay in place for 180 days. During this 6-month time period, the three cannabis licensing authorities will adopt non-emergency regulations.
The respective authorities also want to hear from the people about your thoughts, concerns and suggestions. Each of the three agencies will hold multiple public hearings in order to do so.
California Cannabis Public Hearings
Each of the three cannabis licensing authorities will hold public hearings so the people of California comment and share their input on the future laws. These can be submitted by attending the public hearings and sharing your comments orally, or submitting them to in writing. Instructions for how to submit comments in writing are listed below.
California Department of Public Health Hearing Dates
The CDPH is holding the following hearing dates:
If you would like to see on how to submit a public comment in writing please click here.
Bureau of Cannabis Control Hearing Dates
The Bureau of Cannabis Control provides information about legal, safe and responsible cannabis use. Of course, you can find information – including fact sheets, FAQs, and more – on their website. Their hearing dates are scheduled as follows:
If you would like to know how to submit a public comment in writing please click here.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Hearing Dates
The CDFA protects California’s food supply with regulatory oversight over management, innovation and science, with a commitment to environmental stewardship. Their public hearings are scheduled for:
If you would like to know how to submit a public comment in writing please click here.
The cannabis licensing authorities are hoping to respond to and review each comment. They have all stated they will respond to relevant comments in a timely fashion. They only way a public comment will not be accepted is by phone.
Attending one of the hearings or submitting written comments is a great way to get your voice heard! California is one of the most progressive states when it comes to marijuana legislation, and is paving the way for future cannabis laws throughout the country. California will likely set precedent and this is your chance to be a part of it. If you have any interest in opening a cannabis business now or in the near future, become involved at the local level where possible or attend one of the above hearings. Your voice makes a difference!
If you have questions about specifics regarding any of the above authorities, or would like further clarification on how to obtain a cannabis license in California, contact California Cannabis CPA today.
Breaking California Cannabis News: Updates from Long Beach, Antioch, and Contra Costa and El Dorado Counties!
This week’s California cannabis updates come to you from Long Beach, Antioch, and the counties of Contra Costa and El Dorado.
Have a question about licensing in one of the cities we discussed today? Contact Green Growth CPAs.