The citizens of the City of San Bernardino opted to adopt California Proposition 215 (Compassionate Use Act) and starting accepting licenses as of June 5, 2017 for marijuana business permits. This comes well over 6 months after voters approved Measure O, San Bernardino Regulate Marijuana Act of 2016.
Measure O stipulates that applicants who wish to submit a Medical Marijuana Business Permit be for a property that is at least 600 feet from residential zones. To equip applicants for cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation or distribution, analysis has been completed by the city to best identify the viable business locations. Yet, there is more than just the business type and property location to consider when applying.
There are some pending legal arguments against Measure O, but of the 4 pending only 2 of them are being considered as having any merit. The City will continue to keep you informed of its progress, but feel free to visit the San Bernardino city web site periodically for updates.
Step 1: Identify a Permissible Property Location
Maps and matrixes are provided by the city of the viable locations approved for cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation and distribution. The city refers to the permissible areas as M-B Overlay 1 and M-B Overlay 2. The allowable locations for applicants are not only identified via the additional maps and matrix resources, but each plotted area is assigned an “Assessor Parcel Number” (APN). Of those APN’s note as follows:
It should be noted that an APN # is a requirement as part of the application process, and will need to be reference on the application form. This is in addition to the property address, zoning district, general plan designation and which of the two M-B Overlays the location is listed within.
Step 2: Prepare the Project Information Profile
Applicants must complete the standard Marijuana Business Permit Application as well as provide supplemental information depending on the license type. Prior to submission, it is recommended the Measure O guidelines be fully reviewed, as there are some additional requirements articulated on the requirements of the operating business.
General application requirement checklist:
Once the application is approved there are additional permit fees that are at a minimum of $250 annually and an additional $1 per square foot of operating space.
Site Plan [1” = 10’] (Quantity of 3 Copies):
It should be noted that no marijuana business shall be allowed to operate out of any temporary or portable structure.
Floor Plan [1/4” = 1’] (Quantity of 3 Copies):
Area Map [1” = 50’] (Quantity of 3 Copies):
Business Plan (shall contain a minimum of the following information):
For further details and the application form, go the City of San Bernardino’s web site and their Marijuana Business Permit Application. On the same site, there’s an additional form available for their live scanning capabilities.
Marijuana Business Live Scan Form will initiate the Live Scan Fingerprinting services which is a technique used by law enforcement agencies and private Live Scan Service Providers. The technology electronically captures fingerprints (and palm prints at designated agencies) without using ink and/or paper. Since this form is available, applicants should be prepared for the following:
While there are no deadlines, or caps on the number of permits being offered, applicants will see limits based on available real estate. Early preservation of compliant properties will be key to obtaining permitting in the City of San Bernardino along with the appropriate prerequisites through the state and background check approvals.
Applicants can sign up to receive email updates regarding the implementation process and status by contacting Stephanie Sanchez at Sanchez_Stephanie@SBCity.org or 909-384-7272 x.3343. Application questions should be directed to Planning Division Associate Planner Travis Martin at Martin_Tr@SBCity.org or 909-384-5313 inclusive of questions on application fees.
Other City Resources:
City Council Resolution 2016-177
Measure O full text initiative packet
Measure O Interactive Map
County of San Bernardino Elections Office of the Registrar of Voters election results
Santa Rosa is accepting medical cannabis applications for Cultivation, Distribution, Manufacturing, Testing, and Transporting businesses. Dispensary applications are not being accepted. There is no limit on how many licenses will be offered. Rather, Santa Rosa is using the availability of real estate as the method to cap the market.
To provide a status on medical marijuana businesses, the Santa Rosa Planning and Economic Development Committee published the Cannabis Permitting Update. This report tracks the number of new medical cannabis businesses in Santa Rosa. Highlights of the report includes the following items:
For those who are looking to gain entrance into the Cannabis Industry, this city is an excellent place to secure a foothold in due to their friendly approach to marijuana businesses. The City of Santa Rosa is a leader in marijuana regulations allowing for an open market – due to these factors it is likely that in years to come, they will become a hub in the marijuana industry. There are 3 steps to start your Cannabis Business in Santa Rosa.
Step 1: Find an Open Parcel that Meets Zoning Requirements
Despite low vacancy rates, Testing Labs may find opportunities to find real estate in the CO – Office Commercial Zone and Business Park. Distributors or Manufacturers can apply for permitting in the Business Park, Light Industrial Zone, or the General Industrial Zone.
Applicants should avoid the Limited Light Industrial (-LIL) Combining District for medical cannabis commercial cultivation because Santa Rosa recently adopted an urgency which imposes a temporary moratorium in this district.
Full details regarding which license types can operate in each zone be found in the Medical Cannabis Land Use Policy Chart . This contains a matrix which contains a matrix of license by zone. Applicants can also use a visual reference with the Map of Areas Zoned General Industry, Light Industry, Business Park, and Office Commercial. More details regarding zoning can be found on the city website under Commercial Cannabis Resources.
Step 2: Submit to the City a Conditional Use Permit
If you are able to find an open parcel that meets the criteria, the next steps to obtain cannabis permitting would be to file for a Conditional Use Permit. Businesses that are less than 10,000 square feet will submit for a Minor Permit with a fee of $2,511 and business that are more than 10,000 square feet will submit for a Major Permit with a fee of $10,964.
In addition to the fees, when submitting the CUP application, you must include the following:
For new construction, you must submit the following additional information:
Step 3: Apply for a Building Permit
In parallel with the CUP submission, applicants must apply for a building permit. Applicants must adhere to the regulations of the City of Santa Rosa Building and Fire Division Requirements to gain approval and pass the inspection of medical marijuana-related occupancies.
Information regarding the Building Code Requirements, Accessibility Requirements, Fire Code Requirements, Electrical Code Requirements, Mechanical Code Requirements, Plumbing Code Requirements, Energy Code Requirements, and CalGreen Code Requirements can be found in the City of Santa Rosa Building and Fire Division Requirements. Below are the General Requirements and Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Permit Specific Requirements.
The requirements in this section are related to specific permit types as outlined in the California State Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA)
Cultivation Facilities (MMRSA permit types 1-4) – Annual Fire Department Operational Permit Required
Manufacturer Facility (MMRSA permit type 6-7) – Annual Fire Department Operational Permit Required
Testing/Laboratory (MMRSA permit type 8) – Annual Fire Department Operational Permit Required
Distributor (MMRSA permit type 11) - Annual Fire Department Operational Permit Required
Type 11 Distributor facilities are to meet CBC, Chapter 3 requirements based upon Use and Occupancy Classification for a Storage Group, S, Occupancy. CBC § 311.1.
Transporter (MMRSA permit type 12)
Type 12 Transporter facilities are to meet CBC, Chapter 3 requirements based upon Use and Occupancy Classification for a Storage Group, S-1, and/or Business Group, B, Occupancy. CBC § 311.1.
The City of Santa Rosa is paving the way to become a fully regulated and open cannabis market. For those who are seeking more information, the ordinance can be found in Chapter 10-40 of the City Code and applicants can reference the Medical Cannabis FAQ’s published by the city.
The cannabis industry is growing in Los Angeles County. With the introduction of retail cannabis, new opportunities emerged for dispensaries and retailers. When opening a new dispensary or marijuana related business, you are likely to face a few challenges. One of these challenges is passing through the maze of bureaucracy to secure your permit.
Our clients often ask how they can work with local government to start a cannabis related business in cities where none exist. Usually these cities are in the process of forming local regulations and there is not a clear path for the new business.
Although Proposition 64 passed November 2016, many counties in Los Angeles have not yet settled on local regulations. LA county boasts 88 cities. Nine counties established their permit granting system and six counties offer limited permits. That just scratches the surface.
63 LA cities banned retail cannabis, while others are still on the fence. Uncharted territory still exists. Ten cities have nothing on the books. This means these cities have not come out either for or against local retail. These cities offer great opportunity and great risk for new business.
These uncharted cities represent 7% of the population in LA county, they include:
How To Start A Cannabis Business In Los Angeles County Markets That Are Not Yet Open
Keep in mind that opening a retail cannabis dispensary is not for the faint-of-heart. You are a pioneer in an emerging, yet controversial industry. You set the pace in building the industry’s reputation.
You face challenges if you want to open a cannabis business in one of the cities with no laws on the books. You are traveling without a map and aiming for an ever moving target.
“The fact that there’s a moving target at the state level makes it way more challenging for folks to develop thoughtful, comprehensive, local ordinances,” according to an article published in KQED News
Local governments have some freedom in regards to cannabis zoning laws and business licensing, according to the California State Association of Counties.
“Proposition 64 allows local governments to regulate nonmedical cannabis businesses through
zoning and other laws, such as requiring businesses to obtain local permits or
licenses in addition to state licenses.
Since so much is up to the discretion of local government officials, it is even more important that cannabis entrepreneurs represent the industry well. We compiled tips to help.
1. Maintain a Professional Approach and Appearance
First, always strive to present yourself and the industry in a competent and professional manner. You may find you see better results when you appear competent, responsible, and trustworthy. This is especially true when you represent an industry that is unfamiliar to many decision makers and citizens.
"Look like an entrepreneur. I try to dress like an entrepreneur. I don’t want to be associated with a traditional cannabis-stoner business owner, because that is all that the mainstream public has seen." 5 Tips for Breaking Into the 'Budding' Marijuana Industry, Entrepreneur
The officials in the undecided counties may have concerns about the industry. It is up to you to address these concerns and persuade these officials that your dispensary will not create public nuisance or public safety hazards.
2. Do Your Homework and Research Your Potential City
Call to enquire about current and new policies
Retail cannabis laws are a work in progress. Reach out to the officials in your chosen city to learn up-to-date information. Do your homework before you make the call. Inform yourself on the industry throughout the state and about the unique culture of the city.
Before you reach out, educate educate yourself on state laws, federal laws, and best practices from other cities and in states like Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. Look up data on public sentiment from research institutions like the Pew Research Center and other credible think tanks. The more information you have going in, the more likely decision makers are to listen to you. They may even appreciate your expertise.
"At any level of government, public officials who regulate marijuana are likely to find themselves trying to answer questions about numbers they may or may not have — has driving under the influence increased or decreased since marijuana became legal? Have crime patterns changed? How much money is coming into public coffers, and is it growing?" - Government Technology Magazine
Build relationships with decision makers and influencers
In any business, relationships are essential. This is even more true in a new industry. Build relationships in the local government, local business scene, and in the industry throughout the country. Be known as someone with integrity as this will make it easier to establish your dispensary.
Research the city council. Have any of the current council members taken a stand on retail cannabis? Which members may pose an obstacle? Which members may be open to learning more about the industry? Reach out to any sympathetic council members.
Sometimes people ask us how they should approach city council members for outreach. Every modern city lists city council members on the city website. Usually the listing includes email addresses, office telephone numbers, or even Twitter or other social media handles.
Four Questions To Ask When You Reach Out
When you reach out to government offices, licensing bodies, and city councilors ask a few key questions. These questions are just a starting point, they will help you determine how open they are to the cannabis industry.
Tips for a persuasive proposal:
Four Topics to Address in Your Proposal
While not specific to the cannabis industry, the citizen advocacy organization Citizens.org compiled a simple guide to reaching out to city council members.
Please keep in mind that local government planning divisions typically require their own permit application forms. The proposal described supports your case as you meet and talk with local city council members, planning commissioners, and city staff.
Be a visible advocate and resourceAttend city council meetings and pitch your proposal at the appropriate time. Listen carefully to any discussions and offer yourself as a resource to answer questions about the industry and to clarify any misconceptions. You may find more success if you avoid using drug culture related jargon, instead use general and business related language.
How To Choose A Potential Location in LA County For Your Cannabis Business
In many ways, choosing a location for a successful dispensary is similar to choosing the right location for any retail business.
“For starters, planting seeds in the cannabis economy with a retail outlet takes retail business know-how.” - - Entrepreneur article “How to Plant the Seeds of Success in the New Cannabis Economy.”
Starting any new business is risky. Cannabis related businesses have the advantage of being in an emerging growth market. However, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) around half of all new small businesses survive the first five years of operation.
Like any retailer, there are five questions to ask when choosing a potential location:
Those questions specifically address retail establishments, similar questions apply to any cannabis related business. A cannabis retailer has an added challenge as it is difficult to research market demand for a product that was previously illegal. The process is similar to researching the interest in a new invention or brand new product.
You may also want to look at the city’s history with cannabis issues. You may want to research answers to these four questions:
Establishing a new business is always a challenge. It is even more challenging when you are also helping establish a new industry!
Sonoma County began accepting permit applications for commercial and medical cannabis business on July 5th, 2017. The Sonoma County Cannabis Program outlines the most current information regarding the application process. Currently, they are offering permits for medical Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation, Dispensaries, Distribution and Transportation, Manufacturing, Nurseries, and Testing Facilities.
Sonoma County is cannabis-friendly, and even offers a new business Cannabis Business Readiness Guide to those who are looking to gain entry into the market. In the coming months, they are even offering workshops to prepare individuals for entry into the market. The Sonoma County Cannabis Calendar has a Cannabis: Outdoor Cultivation Zoning Permit Workshop, Medical Cannabis Dispensary Health Permit Workshop, Edible Medical Cannabis Manufacturing Site Permit Workshop, and Cannabis Pesticide Permit Workshop on the books. These workshops promise to bring information regarding the permitting process and key tips to remain compliant.
While friendly to medical use, it is important to point out that the County currently prohibits nonmedical or “recreational” commercial cannabis uses, with the exception of up to six plants not exceeding 100 sq. ft. for personal use per residence. It’s likely that as they gain a full grasp of the medical cannabis regulations, they will allow for expansion into the recreational space.
Next, Sonoma County is looking to develop the local economy. They are offering priority to applicants who are able to demonstrate 1 of the 2 following criteria:
All applicants will be subject to annual inspections and permitting. Additionally, applicants must be 21 or older, will be subject to background screening, and must be in compliance with all occupational safety requirements (Cal/OSHA, wage and hour laws, etc).
Below is a summary of the requirements for each type of permit available. Permits can be submitted to the address below.
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Cultivation and Nurseries
Those interested in operating a cannabis cultivation or nursery site will require a Cannabis Use Permit. There are different requirements depending on the cultivation type. Building, Well, and Septic Permits will be applicable from Permit Sonoma which may include the Groundwater Well Monitoring Covenant and Easement Fillable Form and Instructions for completing Groundwater Easement Form. A fire review and inspection will be required to review all cannabis cultivation applications to ensure that structures meet certain criteria. The Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures will inspect all cultivation sites, whether the operator’s permit is issued by Permit Sonoma or the Department of Agriculture.
The following Cultivation and Nursery Permits are available:
Indoor and Mixed Light Zoning Permits
Permit Sonoma issues indoor and mixed light zoning permits.
Application: Cannabis Cultivation Permit Application PJR-123
Outdoor Zoning Permits – Up to and Including 10,000 Square Feet
The Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures issues outdoor cottage permits in the agricultural zones (Land Intensive Agriculture or LIA, Land Extensive Agriculture or LEA, and Diverse Agriculture or DA) and outdoor grows up to 10,000 square feet in the LEA and DA. Zoning permits are ministerial and will be issued once it can be verified that the operation meets all the standards within the ordinance.
See Cannabis Permits from Agriculture, Weights & Measures
Outdoor Use Permits – 10,001 Square Feet or More
A use permit is a discretionary permit and Permit Sonoma will review each application and condition on a case-by-case basis. Each permit is subject to public notification and environmental review. A minor use permit may be approved administratively without a public hearing if one is not requested by the public.
Application: Cannabis Cultivation Permit Application PJR-123 (PDF: 235 kB)
Review the Sonoma County Cultivation Site and Nursery Site for additional details.
Cultivation centers must also take into consideration the following requirements:
Site Development Criteria
The County has been issuing land use permits for dispensaries since 2007. No more than 9 medical cannabis dispensaries can be permitted within the unincorporated county at any one time. There are currently 5 dispensaries in operation and 3 applications are pending.
Dispensaries are medical only and can only sell cannabis and related products to patients with a valid medical recommendation. Delivery operations must be connected to a brick and mortar dispensary.
Cannabis dispensaries are allowed in the urban commercial zones (C1, C2, and LC) and will require a use permit from Permit Sonoma.
A use permit is a discretionary permit and each application is reviewed and conditioned on a case-by-case basis. Each permit is subject to public notification and environmental review.
Application: Cannabis Supply Chain Business Use Permit Application PJR-124
Visit the Sonoma County Website for more information regarding the application process for dispensaries.
Distribution and Transportation
Cannabis distributors and transporters are allowed in most industrial zones (MP, M1, and M2) and will require a minor use permit from Permit Sonoma.
A use permit is a discretionary permit and each application is reviewed and conditioned on a case-by-case basis. Each permit is subject to public notification and environmental review. A minor use permit may be approved administratively without a public hearing if one is not requested by the public. Fire and Emergency Services will review all distribution and transportation permit applications to ensure compliance. Applications can be found here: Cannabis Supply Chain Business Use Permit Application PJR-124
Applicants who are interested in operating a cannabis manufacturer will require a Cannabis Land Use Permit. Cannabis manufacturers are allowed in the industrial zones (MP, M1, M2, and M3) and will require a minor use permit from Permit Sonoma.
A use permit is a discretionary permit and each application is reviewed and conditioned on a case-by-case basis. Each permit is subject to public notification and environmental review. A minor use permit may be approved administratively without a public hearing if one is not requested by the public. As required, Building, Well, and Septic Permits required. Fire and Emergency Services will review all manufacturing permit applications to ensure compliance. Applications can be found here: Cannabis Supply Chain Business Use Permit Application PJR-124. Edible manufacturing businesses will require a permit from the Department of Health Services which can be found here:
Permit for Edible Medical Cannabis Product Manufacturing Site.
Those interested in operating a cannabis testing lab will be required to obtain a Cannabis Land Use Permit from Permit Sonoma to operate in the industrial zones (MP, M1, M2, and M3) and a conditional use permit to operate in certain commercial zones (C3 and LC).
A use permit is a discretionary permit and each application is reviewed and conditioned on a case-by-case basis. Each permit is subject to public notification and environmental review. A minor use permit may be approved administratively without a public hearing if one is not requested by the public. Fire and Emergency Services will review all distribution and transportation permit applications to ensure compliance. More information can be found in the Test Lab Section on Sonoma County Site.
The City of Adelanto began accepting Medical Cannabis applications on July 6th, 2017. Details of the application process have been provided by the Planning Division. The city published a Medical Cultivation Ordinance and a Dispensaries Ordinance to outline the rules for each license type. The biggest difference between license types is where the businesses are zoned to operate, otherwise the application process is identical.
Individuals seeking entry into the Cannabis Industry in Adelanto should follow 4 key steps.
Step 1: Identify a Property
Cultivation, Manufacturing, Transportation, and Testing Properties
For Medical Cannabis Cultivation, Manufacturing, Transportation, Distribution, and Testing applicants should look for properties within the Manufacturing/Industrial (M1) or Light Manufacturing (LM) zoning designation in the Industrial Park. Applicants should avoid any property that is within a 2,500 foot radius of a school, public playground or park, child care or day care facility, youth center, or church, or as further amended by City Ordinances.
Medical Cannabis Dispensaries applicants should look for a property within the designated Medical Cannabis Dispensary Zones The property cannot be within 600 foot radius of a school, public playground or park, child care or day care facility, youth center, or church, nor within 500 feet of a residential property, or as further amended by City Ordinances. All medical cannabis dispensaries must comply with Section 17.80.120 of the Adelanto Municipal Code (Ordinance No. 553).
Step 2: Construct a Compliant Building
For the City of Adelanto, a secure facility is critical to pass inspections to gain Medical Cannabis licensure. During the construction phase, applicants must build the facility with the following criteria in mind:
Step 3: Draft an Operations Plan that Adheres to Adelanto Laws
In the Application, applicants must read and acknowledge the laws related to operating in Adelanto. Some of the key rules are below and should be accounted for in the Operations Plan.
Step 4: Complete an Application
Applications cost $7,000 each and permits are available for Cultivation, Manufacturing, Distribution, Transportation, Testing, and Dispensaries. The process and application for each license type is identical. The application is available here.
Applicants need to submit the following items to the city for consideration:
The city does not mention a cap on the number of licenses being offered. Rather, it is likely that available real estate will be quickly consumed by applicants creating a natural cap on the market. Those who are interested in obtaining a cannabis permit in the City of Adelanto should secure real estate now to expedite the application preparation process.