The 6 Things Marijuana Growers Should Know Before Applying For A License
In California, obtaining a license to grow marijuana is tough. Not only do you have to satisfy a variety of legal stipulations, but you also have to worry about whether obtaining a license is even legal in your municipality. If it’s not, you risk facing charges when you go to sign up.
These hurdles can be more burdensome than you might think. Right now, only about one percent of California growers have obtained licenses to grow.
But regardless of how challenging the process of obtaining a license might be, it still stands that if you want to participate in the legal market, it’s something you have to do. Luckily, the process is made easier the more educated you are.
Here are a few of the most important things growers should be aware of before applying for a license.
1: There are 13 different types of licenses.
One thing many growers aren’t aware of is there are actually an array of licenses they might be required to obtain, depending on what it is they want to do.
There are micro-business licenses that allow holders the ability to conduct all business-related operations, including growing, cultivating, and selling. Then, there are more focused licenses specific to individual processes, like nursery, cultivation, or manufacturing.
Each of these licenses have different requirements depending on the size of your facility or the location of your operation. Understanding what licenses you need and what is required of each of those individual applications will save you a lot of time later on.
2: Your city doesn’t have to allow every type of license—or any at all.
Identifying what sort of license you need is only the first step. You also need to be mindful of whether or not the city you live in allows growing or selling marijuana. Despite the passage of Prop 64, many don’t.
Prop 64 states that cities and towns throughout California can choose not to participate in the state law. Municipalities ranging from small towns to highly populated areas like Orange County, for example, have already opted out of the law.
For many growers, this creates a critical complication. It’s left many who’ve been involved in the business for a long time without a path to licensing, since moving their operations to a city where marijuana is legal simply isn’t realistic.
It’s crucial that you identify whether or not growing or selling marijuana is legal in your city. If it’s not, this will drastically alter your strategy for obtaining your license moving forward.
3: It’s going to take a long time for all cities to legalize marijuana.
If your city doesn’t currently allow growing or selling marijuana, it might be the case that in order to obtain a license, your only solution is to move.
Why? Because it’s going to take a long time for all cities in California to legalize cannabis.
There are a few reasons for this. One is the stigma about marijuana that still worries older politicians—think town and city leaders who are worried about the political ramifications of legalization.
What we’ll eventually see, though, is that once the next generation of politicians is elected into office and the benefits of legalization are made more apparent, there will be a stronger acceptance of marijuana across demographics and municipalities. The tax revenue alone will be enough to persuade most of the remaining naysayers.
Until then, you won’t have a choice but to abide by the current rules. And seeing as how those rules might not change for a long time, waiting until marijuana is legalized in your city to obtain a license is not a prudent strategy.
4: Anyone in your town can oppose your marijuana facility.
Even if your property has been approved for whatever license you’re applying for, if your neighbors oppose you growing or selling marijuana, they can derail your operation just as effectively as politicians can.
State law requires that no one living in the community can oppose your operation. It also requires that, as part of the application process, growers present their plans to the town committee. If you don’t have unanimous support in setting up shop, your plans can be killed.
Aspiring license holders should mitigate that risk by being proactive.
Reach out to your neighbors and tell them about your plans. Emphasize your hopes of bettering the community, and obtain the support of community leaders. Highlight the medical benefits of marijuana. And most importantly, remind everyone that a portion of the revenue your business generates will go directly back to the town.
5: Once permanent annual licensing comes in this July, licensing fees will skyrocket.
Obtaining a license comes with its own economic costs.
These will become unavoidable come July 1, 2018, when the permanent annual licensing framework is in place. At that time, growers will be required to obtain sign-offs from the water board, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other bodies of government––and each department will require their own separate application.
In total, the cost of completing these applications, obtaining these different approvals, and finally being rewarded an annual license will amount to upwards of $50,000 a year—and that’s just on the state side. Local requirements will bring with them their own price tags.
6: Your costs will go up across the board.
In addition to costs associated with licensing, the cost of taxes, electricity, water, and other expenses are going to go up, too. The problem is, these expenses will be rising as the price for your product actively goes down.
The industry needs to be prepared for this. Things are not going to be as simple as they used to be––nor will the cost of operation be as cheap.
This all might seem like a lot—increased costs, neighborly opposition, confusing municipal inconsistencies. For some, it might be.
But the fact remains that if you hope to grow or sell marijuana in California––if you want to participate in this new market––you’ll need to abide by these rules and navigate this new regulatory jungle. If you don’t, you risk serious repercussions, including imprisonment.
If you haven’t already, the best way to get started is to educate yourself.