Southern California Cities Approve Marijuana Testing Facilities
In 2015, the Governor signed AB 266 which established the minimum health and safety and testing standards for licensed facilities permitted to cultivate, manufacture, sell, and distribute marijuana within the state of California.
As a result, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) also established the need for independent marijuana testing facilities. Here are the Southern California cities that have approved marijuana testing facilities.
Costa Mesa, Orange County
The city of Costa Mesa passed Measure X to allow medical marijuana testing laboratories in certain industrial zones within the city. The industrial zones are to be located north of South Coast Dr. and west of Harbor Blvd in the Manufacturing Park (MP) and Planned Development Industrial (PDI) zones only. The authorized zones for these facilities exclude any portion of the South Coast Collection, or any lot within 500 feet of Moon Park.
The measure also subjects the testing facilities to conditional use permit and business permits, along with a host of requirements, including premises security, background checks, liability insurance, loss prevention measures, and business records.
However, retail sale or distribution of medical marijuana or marijuana products are still prohibited, along with dispensaries and cultivation. The permits for these businesses. valid for two years only, are to be issued by the City CEO and are non-transferable.
Application Process: Interested parties must submit a business permit application to the city. Then background checks will be performed on the principals of the company followed by an application for a conditional use permit.
The cost to set up a marijuana testing facility in Costa Mesa includes a $21,525 fee for a medical marijuana business permit, $27,508 for a medical marijuana conditional use permit, $341 for individual background checks and $59 for police fingerprinting. These fees are addition to a business license, which must be obtained first and renewed annually. The medical marijuana business permit must also be renewed every year and the fees are the same as the initial cost.
Lynwood, Los Angeles County
In September 2016, the Lynwood Planning Commission conducted a noticed public hearing on proposed amendments to the Lynwood Zoning Ordinance, and recommended amending the zoning district where cannabis commercial facilities are allowed, to allow such facilities in the manufacturing zone of the City only.
The testing facilities are required to maintain its testing results as a part of its records. The city manager is authorized to formulate, adopt, and amend the testing rules regarding the safety and potency of medical cannabis at Licensed Premises. The City Manager also has the authorization to contract with one or more independent testing laboratories in order to assist the city manager in performing periodic and random testing.
Application Process: The process to open a commercial marijuana business in Lynwood. begins with an evaluation and ranking and criminal history check. Applicants are then required to obtain a "Zoning Verification Letter" from the Building, Safety, and Planning Department in City Hall. The "Zoning Verification Letter" must be included with the applicant's Commercial Cannabis Business Form. One principal may also be required to pass a Cannabis Expertise Examination.
The application fees are $235.21 for the Zoning Verification Letter, $300 per principal for the background check. The commercial cannabis business fee is $3,701, which is Phase 1 of the process. Phases 2-4 of the eligibility, ranking, and recommendation processes require a total of $3,402 in fees to be paid.
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County
In Los Angeles, marijuana testing facilities are permitted to operate within limited commercial and most industrial zones as a result of a November 2016 ballot measure that passed and will go into effect on January 1, 2018. Marijuana businesses operating within the City are required to have their marijuana periodically tested by an independent and licensed testing facility. In addition, the City recently approved Measure M, giving the City Council and Mayor the authority to regulate all aspects of commercial cannabis activity in the City.
Long Beach, Los Angeles County
The city of Long Beach approved Measure MM permitting marijuana businesses, including marijuana cultivation, distribution, manufacturing and testing businesses. The ordinance repealed the City's ban on cannabis businesses, reduced the City's marijuana taxes.
The ordinance prohibits medical marijuana businesses from being located in exclusively residential zones, within 1000 feet of schools or beaches, or within 1000 feet of parks or libraries. Marijuana businesses are also subject to food handling, testing, labeling, and packaging regulations.
While it did not establish an upper limit on licenses for testing facilities, the measure does permit up to 100 non-dispensary businesses to operate within the City. A testing laboratory may apply for a business license permit application for the specific purpose of testing medical marijuana, however the licensee must also apply for a State issued MMRSA Type 8 Testing Laboratory license within 6 months from notice that the State is issuing such license.
Until such time as the State begins to issue MMRSA Type 8 Testing Laboratory licenses, the City of Long Beach permits laboratory to be conducted by a testing laboratory that has otherwise adopted a standard operating procedure for testing and calibration. All testing shall be compliant with the MMRSA standards.
Application Process: The application process to open a marijuana lab testing facility in Long Beach follows the standard business license application process in Long Beach. Applications for Cultivation and Lab Testing Licenses can be submitted beginning May 1, 2017 and applicants must also submit a Laboratory Testing Operating Plan. The application fees are charged based on the number of owners and business managers and range from $200.45 for 1 owner to $925.45 for 6 owners.
Permit cards are issued after the plans for the facility are approved. The Business License Division will receive electronic proof from each of the inspecting agencies as the inspections are performed and approved. The business must receive a Certificate of Occupancy before any license will be issued.