In Part 2 of Cannabiz Media’s series about marijuana licenses in California, we’ll take a look at California’s cultivation licenses. If you missed Part 1 of the series, which provided a detailed overview of marijuana licensing in California in 2018, you can follow the preceding link to read it now.

California’s Marijuana Cultivation Licenses

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is responsible for regulating cannabis cultivation in the state. CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing is a division of the CDFA. It handles the licensing and regulating of commercial marijuana cultivators and manages the track-and-trace system, which tracks cannabis from seed to sale. Currently, there are 690 adult-use cultivation licenses and 1,682 medical licenses in California according to the Cannabiz Media License Database.

California Marijuana Cultivation licenses adult-use vs medical

There are several types of marijuana cultivation licenses in California which are based on two things:

  • The type of lighting used by the cultivator: Indoor, outdoor, or mixed (tier 1 and tier 2)
  • The size of the cultivation: Measured by the number of plants for small licenses and square footage for larger licenses

The table below provides details about each of these licenses by size.

California Marijuana Licenses by Category

Source: CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing

Of the 2,373 active cultivator licenses in the state at this time, small licenses are the most prevalent by size, and mixed-use lighting licenses are the most common by lighting type. Breaking things down further, the chart below shows the number of specific licenses by type and lighting from the Cannabiz Media License Database.

California Marijuana Cultivation Licenses by Type

License application fees vary from $135 for a Specialty Cottage Outdoor license up to $8,665 for a Medium Indoor license. Annual license fees also vary. The annual fee for Specialty Cottage Outdoor license is the lowest at $1,205 while the annual fee for a Medium Indoor license is the highest at $77,905.

Based on calculations performed by the Cannabiz Media team, the total estimated fee revenue (i.e., application fees plus license fees) that California will generate based on the 2,373 cultivation licenses tracked in the Cannabiz Media License Database is over $42 million.

Where are California’s Marijuana Cultivation Licenses

There is an extreme concentration of cultivation licenses in California with 55% of all licenses in just three counties: Santa Barbara (22%), Humboldt (20%), and Medocino (14%). More than three-quarters (77%) of all cultivation licenses are in just six counties: Santa Barbara, Humboldt, Medocino, Monterey (11%), Calaveras (6%), and Los Angeles (5%).

Of the 58 counties in California, 31 have cultivation licenses, and 90% of those licenses are in just 10 counties: Santa Barbara, Humboldt, Medocino, Monterey, Calaveras, Los Angeles, Trinity (4%), Riverside (4%), Sacramento (2%), and Sonoma (2%).

Who Has the Cultivation Licenses in California?

The 2,372 cultivation licenses in the state of California are held by 1,206 owners. In total, 833 license holders hold just one license each. Twenty-four license holders hold 10 or more licenses (double-digit), and one company holds triple digit licenses. That company is Central Coast Farmer’s Market Management, LLC.

According to the Cannabiz Media License Database, Central Coast Farmer’s Market Management, LLC holds 113 cultivation licenses, which is 5% of all cultivation licenses in California. One of the company’s licenses is a Medium Mixed-Light Tier 1 license, one is a Specialty Mixed-Light Tier 1 license, one is a Specialty Indoor license, 23 are Small Outdoor licenses, and 87 are Small Mixed-Light Tier 1 licenses.

Based on the license fees reported by the state, Central Coast Farmer’s Market Management, LLC would have to pay $1.3 million in application fees and license fees for its 113 cultivation licenses.

Cannabiz Media is tracking more than 3,500 marijuana licenses in its database, and 49% of them are cultivator licenses. In other words, marijuana cultivation is extremely important to California’s economy and the marijuana industry as a whole.

While certain counties are hotbeds for cannabis cultivation and some companies are positioning themselves to be market leaders, other states are watching closely so they can learn from the Golden State. At the same time, other companies are watching to see how they can get into the California marijuana industry and when they should do it.

Coming up Next in the Marijuana Licenses in California Series

Watch the Cannabiz Media blog for Part 3 of the Marijuana Licenses in California series coming next week. Part 3 will focus on California’s marijuana manufacturing licenses. If you haven’t already subscribed to the Cannabiz Media newsletter, subscribe now so you don’t miss it.

Read the Rest of the Series on the Cannabiz Media Blog

Ed Keating is a co-founder of Cannabiz Media and oversees our data research and government relations efforts. He has spent his whole career working with and advising information companies in the compliance space. Ed has overseen complex multijurisdictional product lines in the securities, corporate, UCC, safety, environmental and human resource markets and focuses on workflow products. Ed has spent the last twenty five years in the information industry.  During that time he has worked for both startup and established information companies where he has led marketing, product management and sales organizations.  These companies include Wolters Kluwer/Commerce Clearing House, CT Corporation, EDGAR Online and Business & Legal Reports. At Cannabiz Media Ed enjoys the challenge of working with regulators across the country as he and his team gather corporate, financial, and license information to track the people, products and businesses in the cannabis economy. Ed graduated from Hamilton College and received his MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.  He has been active with the Software & Information Industry Association for his whole career and managed the Content Division for six years.  He’s was recently a Trustee at the Country School in Madison CT and a Little League Coach for seven years.