Happy 2019, everyone! As the cliche goes: New Year, New
Me…Rules. After being notified in early December, it looks like California just approved a new set of cannabis regulations! Effective immediately! So what does this mean for all you Emerald Trianglers and other California growers under the newest CDFA regulations? Not that much, honestly.
CDFA regulations: What’s not changing?
The changes are all pretty tame and I’ve listed them later, but to me, the real surprise in the new regulations is what they chose not to include.
- No large licenses, and still no small license caps. There has long been controversy over the fact that the CDFA regulations both allow and disallow large grows. (What do you mean by that, Mr. Ewing?) Well, large cultivation licenses will not be available until 2023, so the size of any current cultivator license is limited to one acre. So, no big grows, right? Actually, if you have enough cash, there is still no limit on how many small licenses you can get. Not much of a difference between a 5-acre grow and 5 one-acre grows all next to each other. Many speculators believed that the CDFA would want to close this loophole. They didn’t exactly close the loophole, but it is smaller. The “shared areas” changes mentioned below (item 6 in the list) mean that these growers who hold multiple small licenses must have a separate processing, packaging, and storage area for harvested cannabis from each license. The change will still hit large cultivators in the pocketbook since they now have to create new processing and storage areas for each small license they hold, but they will still be free to continue growing as much product as they can afford to license.
- Still no (real) security requirements. Most marijuana regulations I encounter have very thorough security requirements. Alarm system specifications, surveillance system specifications, an exhaustive list of every area that must be monitored 24/7. Minimum resolution, cloud storage, backup power, panic alarm, electric strike locks! These kinds of rules are nowhere to be found in the CDFA’s new permanent regulations. Sure, there is now the requirement that staff be on site, and maybe the rule that you must halt operations upon discovering a dead body could be considered a security requirement. But that’s it. The only time the rules mention “security” (aside from social security) is in a mandate that all security lights are shielded to face downward. And you don’t even have to have security lights in the first place. This could be an artifact of the fact that the CDFA generally regulates crops that don’t require stringent security measures to protect. No crime syndicate is going to send someone to steal your almonds and grapes in order to finance their operations. Okay, maybe sometimes they will, but it’s still not as likely as with a field of marijuana. So maybe this is just an ongoing blind spot in the mind of a CDFA regulator. On the other hand, no one requested security requirements in the latest notice and comment round, so maybe they are just enacting the will of the people. Regardless of the reason, California’s localities almost universally include security requirements in their marijuana ordinances and codes, so perhaps they will fill in the gaps left by CDFA.
- No permanent structure requirements. Because non-permanent structures like trailers and shipping containers are popular among growers and the BCC had decided to require permanent structures, many speculated that the same requirements would soon be coming to growers. Luckily for growers, this did not come to pass. You can still tend to your crops from the comfort of a space heater toolshed if you are so inclined. But don’t get too attached to that space heater, because renewable energy mandates are coming in 2023.
CDFA regulations: What is changing?
- Temporary licenses will be phased out. Existing licenses will be valid for 120 (calendar) days after their effective date, at which point, they won’t be renewed. Either get a permanent license or go back to the black market, I guess. Disclaimer: This is obviously a joke, do not actually go to the black market or your business will be shut down immediately.
- More environmental regulations! You now need to prove that your grow won’t screw up the local watershed (or other protected areas) and list all of your water sources as well as how they will be used. It is now clearer which type of generator permits you need for portable and stationary generators. You now have different evidence requirements for waste discharge from other cultivation licensees. The CDFA now explicitly lists the three registries from whom you can buy greenhouse gas offset credits. Lastly, you can now drop off your cannabis waste at a recycling center or recycle it on site.
- Outdoor Cultivators are now banned from using light deprivation because light dep is now included in the definition of Mixed-Light Cultivator. Okay, I suppose you’re not technically banned if you go get a Mixed-Light license, but do you really want to go through the application process again just to get your plants to flower earlier?
- New operating hours. Your business has to be operational for at least two hours between 8-5 each day, Monday-Friday, and an employee must be on site during those operating hours. Presumably, this is to discourage you farmers who like to plant your weed and then ignore it for months on end while all sorts of naughty people could be messing with your crops.
- A handful of compliance windows have been changed or clarified. The CDFA is clearly showing a penchant for calendars. They removed 19 mentions of “business days” (yes, I counted) and added 17 mentions of “calendar days.” The only exception is that the windows for administrative hearings will be measured in business days for some reason. Exciting stuff!
- Lastly, the CDFA regulations now require you to keep most areas separated if you hold multiple licenses. The only areas you are allowed to share between licenses are:
- Storage of pesticides and agricultural chemicals
- Secured areas for cannabis waste
- Common breakrooms
So yeah, that’s about it. Keep on growin, growers!