Marijuana Licenses in California – Part 2: Cultivation


In Part 2 of Cannabiz Media’s series about marijuana licenses in California, we’ll take a look at California’s cultivation licenses.

See Part 1 here!

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Marijuana Licenses in California – Part 2: Cultivation


The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is responsible for regulating cannabis cultivation in California. CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing is a division of the CDFA that handles the licensing and regulation of commercial marijuana cultivators. It also 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.

There are several varieties of cultivation licenses in California, based on two things:

  1. The type of lighting used: Indoor, outdoor, or mixed (tier 1 and tier 2)
  2. The size of the cultivation facility, measured in plant number for small licenses and square footage for larger licenses

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

Source: CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing

Of the 2,373 active cultivator licenses in the state at this time, small licenses are the most common by size, and mixed-use lighting licenses are the most common lighting type. Going even further, the chart below shows the number of specific licenses by cultivation type and lighting type:

License application fees vary from $135 for a specialty cottage outdoor license all the way up to $8,665 for a medium indoor license. Annual license fees also vary according to size and lighting. The annual fee for specialty cottage outdoor license is $1,205 while the annual fee for a medium indoor license is $77,905.

Related Article: California State Fees

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


Where are California’s Marijuana Cultivation Licenses Located?

An extreme concentration of cultivation licenses (77% of all licenses) in California are in just six counties: Santa Barbara (22%), Humboldt (20%), and Mendocino (14%), 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 are held by 1,206 owners. If we break ownership of the licenses down, we find that:

  1. 833 license holders hold just one license each.
  2. Twenty-four license holders hold 10 or more licenses.
  3. One company holds over 100 licenses. That company is Central Coast Farmer’s Market Management, LLC.

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 pays $1.3 million in application fees and license fees for its 113 cultivation licenses.

While certain counties are hotbeds for cannabis cultivation and some companies are positioning themselves to be market leaders, other states are watching closely so that 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 the right time to do it is.


Would you like to read more about licenses in California? Stay tuned!



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About the Author

Ed Keating is a co-founder of Cannabiz Media and oversees data research and government relations efforts. He has spent his whole career working with and advising information companies in the compliance space.