Posts tagged licensing
Thousands of cannabis licenses are set to expire in California. 'Some of them won’t be able to survive.'

Amy DiPierro, Palm Springs Desert SunPublished 4:19 p.m. PT March 20, 2019 | Updated 4:57 p.m. PT March 20, 2019

The clock is ticking for thousands of legal cannabis licenses set to expire over the coming months.

More than 10,000 licenses are due to lapse over the next six months, according to a Desert Sun analysis of state licensing data downloaded March 14. The anticipated expirations complicate the efforts of legal cannabis companies to follow the letter of state law, which requires all businesses touching the marijuana plant to have a valid license. Without a license, operators face a choice to either close their doors or slip into the black market.

California regulators awarded thousands of temporary licenses in 2018, each lasting 120 days plus additional 90-day extensions.

To transition the industry to a permanent licensing system, state rules prohibit the renewal of the temporary licenses in 2019. But the operators of cannabis companies that have opened for business with temporary licenses worry their current paperwork will expire before state regulators award them annual licenses.

The number of active and inactive cannabis licenses fluctuates each day, as state agencies award new licenses and existing licenses expire.  

An analysis of cannabis licensing data from the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) also found:

  • The number of temporary licenses awarded by the CDFA and the BCC, minus the expired licenses, spiked in the final months of 2018 before the agencies had to stop awarding temporary licenses under state rules.

  • Many licenses awarded by the CDFA and the CDPH, which oversees the manufacturers of products like edibles and tinctures, will start to expire before the bulk of licenses awarded by the BCC, which regulates retailers, distributors and laboratories.

  • More than 6,000 licenses awarded by the CDFA, which regulates cultivators, are due to expire in the six months ending Sept. 14 if they do not receive replacement licenses, the most expirations of the three agencies.

  • As of March 20, the three agencies had awarded a total of 124 annual licenses, a figure dwarfed by thousands of temporary licenses expected to expire.

Lawmakers have already created one avenue to tide over temporary licensees: A non-renewable provisional license meant to bridge the gap between temporary and annual licenses, which agencies can issue through Jan. 1.

A statement from CDPH said the agency "is working diligently to process license applications before the temporary license expires," adding that applicants can speed up the review process by responding to questions quickly. 

The expirations are a less pressing concern at the Bureau of Cannabis Control, where most temporary licenses won't start expiring until June. The agency plans to issue provisional licenses to qualifying temporary licensees and annual licenses to companies that don't have a temporary license, said Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for the Bureau.

California lawmakers are also contemplating an additional fix, SB-67, which would extend all temporary license expiration dates until the end of 2019 and allow regulators to issue provisional licenses through July 1, 2020. The bill, which has garnered support from cannabis growers and industry groups, was last amended March 4.

Coachella Valley cannabis insiders said they have been keeping in touch with the three state licensing authorities in the hopes of getting annual licenses before their temporary ones run out, but most are hopeful that SB-67 will reform the rules so that companies trying to stay compliant aren’t forced out of the legal business.

Jeff Homolya examines marijuana plants at Canndescent in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., where he works as the Cultivation Manager, March 7, 2018. (Photo: Zoe Meyers/The Desert Sun)

Canndescent, a 200-person company that grows, manufactures and distributes cannabis in Desert Hot Springs, has reassigned an employee from her usual job to have her focus on licensing, said Tom DiGiovanni, the company’s chief financial officer. Canndescent has 13 licenses in California, and it needs to convert all of them to annual licenses, he said, so staying in contact with regulators and sending them additional information as requested is a full-time job.  

DiGiovanni said he’s optimistic that lawmakers will devise a stopgap measure to extend temporary licenses. But Canndescent could face serious pipeline problems if not, he added. If one of Canndescent’s cultivation licenses lapses, the growers can’t simply transfer the crop to another Canndescent license that’s still valid under state rules. And Canndescent could face a shrinking list of customers if the retailers that buy its products lose their temporary licenses.

“Some of them won’t be able to survive. They won’t come back,” DiGiovanni said. “That supports the illegal market, so it doesn’t do anybody good.”

Canndescent has capital reserves to fall back on, but tapping into those funds “would not be ideal by any stretch of the imagination,” DiGiovanni said, because it would divert money away from investing in the company's growth. Canndescent's leaders aim to quadruple annual revenue and hit $40 million in 2019, he said.

Rod McClelland trims marijuana at Canndescent in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., March 7, 2018. (Photo: Zoe Meyers/The Desert Sun)

Licensing deadlines are also approaching for another big player, MedMen, which operates in five states. MedMen’s manufacturing license in Desert Hot Springs, for example, will expire on April 8. The expiration date won’t interfere with MedMen operations, since the facility is still under construction, according to Daniel Yi, the company’s senior vice president of corporate communications.

Yi said MedMen employees are in the process of applying for annual licenses. He said he doesn’t foresee that the company’s retail licenses, which won't expire until July and August, will be interrupted by licensing hiccups either.

“We’re trying to legalize cannabis,” Yi said. “I hope nobody thought it was going to be simple.”

In this Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, file photo pedestrians walk past one of the MedMen marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. (Photo: Richard Vogel, AP file)

But for smaller operations, the uncertainty is hard to stomach. James Montoya, the owner of GGMP Veterans Corporation, a startup in Desert Hot Springs that only has one cultivation license, hasn’t harvested its first crop. The company's temporary license expires March 27, so Montoya has been calling state regulators regularly to ask if his annual license is ready. He first submitted paperwork for the license in September.

“It’s like you finished high school, you turned everything in, you took your finals, but no one can tell you when you’re going to graduate,” he said. “A half a year later and we’re still in the same place where we began.”

Montoya is worried that if he doesn’t get an annual license before the temporary one lapses, he’ll be forced to lay off his four employees and lose thousands of dollars.

Still, Brent Buhrman, the president of the Coachella Valley Cannabis Alliance Network, a trade group, said the consensus among his organization's members is decidedly chill.

“Where you would think there’d be a level of concern, it’s more of a wait-and-see attitude,” he said. “I can’t see the state letting this entire thing get this far and then basically implode on itself.”

Buhrman said he and his staff haven’t fielded a phone call from so much as one concerned member.

Laurie Holcomb, the founder of BlackStar Industrial Properties, is developing a 620,000-square-foot campus in Desert Hot Springs for growing, manufacturing and distributing cannabis. So far, BlackStar has tenants in the process of moving into their spaces, but none of the tenants will be open for another 6 to 8 weeks.

Holcomb said she thinks regulators will grant provisional licenses to businesses that have applied for an annual license but haven’t been awarded one yet.

“From our viewpoint, it’s been a fair process,” she said.

But Holcomb sees a bigger issue on the horizon. If the state doesn’t start issuing more annual licenses to cultivators, where will manufacturers and retailers get their weed?  

“There’s going to be a supply and demand problem,” she said.

Amy DiPierro covers real estate and business at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. Reach her at amy.dipierro@desertsun.com or 760-218-2359.

Summary of Major Changes of the Recently Amended Article 4 of Chapter X City of Los Angeles Ordinance

The most significant updates to Article 4 include a revised definition of “Undue Concentration” to increase the number of the number of cannabis businesses and define ownership concentration.  In addition, a tiered system of “Social Equity Applicants” was permitted to allow for economically disadvantaged persons to apply for cannabis licenses.

  • The definition of undue concentration was updated to allow for additional business licenses according to population density and applicable zoning laws.  This includes:

    • One Store Front Retail (Type 10 license) for every 10,000 residents.

    • One Microbusiness (Type 12 license) for every 7,500 residents.  A Microbusiness is an entity that engages in cultivation on less than 10,000 square feet.

    • One square foot (1 sq. ft.) of cultivation space for every 350 square feet of zoned land.

    • One license to manufacturer (Type7) for every 7,500 residents.

    • Existing dispensaries (EMMD) and processors (as defined under Section 104.08) are not subject to this new rule.

    • Additional rules, including calendar days, for how applications are submitted, accepted, processed, approved and denied was also clarified. Some limits pertaining to zoning (i.e. M1-M3, MR1, MR2), as well as limits on the number of licenses (i.e. 1 cultivation license per every 2,500 square feet of cultivation space) were also delineated.

    • The Undue Concentration provisions may be waived if the City Council believes doing so would serve “public convenience or necessity.”

  • Ownership & Percentages was also updated to clarify and limit the number of individuals that may own cannabis businesses

    • A person may own or have a maximum 20% profit share in up to three Storefront retail (Type 10) or Delivery (Type 9) businesses. 

  • Three types of Social Equity Applications (Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, each which must be approved by DCR), were introduced:

    • Tier 1 applicants are reserved for those with low income AND a prior California Cannabis Arrest or Conviction; OR Low income and a minimum of 5 years California residency. 

      • Restrictions, including a minimum ownership requirement (51%), as well as benefits including expedited renewal processing, fee deferrals are also detailed.

    • A “Tier 2 Social Equity Applicant” was also defined to include anyone with a Low Income & 5 years' residency or 10 years residency and no less than a 33.3% ownership.

    • A “Tier 3 Social Equity Applicant” was also defined to essentially include those entities that support Tier 1 & Tier 2 applicants and regulates the price per square foot of property, in certain instances.

  • Finally, this ordinance also requires a completed financial statement for the “most recently completed fiscal year” for any cannabis businesses applying for a renewal license.


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Top 7 Cannabis Consultants in California

With ever-changing regulations across the industry and recently-updated policies in California, it can be challenging for cannabis newcomers to keep up with licensing requirements and procedures. And if you’re looking to launch a California cannabis retail operation, you’ll also need an understanding of cannabis business best practices and compliance mandates.

If you’re new to the industry — or new to running a cannabis retail outfit — you may want to consider the services of a California cannabis consultant. Depending on your goals and needs, a quality consultant can navigate you through the licensing application process, help you write your dispensary business plan, develop retail space layouts and floor plans, and even guide your cannabis branding and marketing.

We’ve put together a list of the top five cannabis consultants in California to help you on your journey to opening a cannabis dispensary in California.

1. Cannabis Advising Partners

Based in Long Beach, Cannabis Advising Partners assists clients with every stage of cannabis operation startup — licensing and permitting, corporate formation, strategic 280E tax planning, compliance management, staffing and everything in between. With a team consisting of attorneys, accountants, engineers, and executives experienced in liaising between industry and government, Cannabis Advising Partners is equipped to help get your cannabis retail operation off the ground.

2. Canna Advisors

Founded in Colorado by Jay and Diane Czarkowski, Canna Advisors works with cannabis businesses throughout legal states, including California. Their services include license application support and procurement, facility design, business and brand development, operations management, California cannabis compliance, and expansion services when you’re ready to scale.

The Czarkowskis are highly experienced in cannabis, having founded one of the first cultivation and dispensary facilities in Colorado, and their staff has a combined 75 years of cannabis industry experience. Canna Advisors was named the number-one cannabis consulting firm by Cannabis Business Executive in 2017.

3. Be Green Legal

Be Green Legal helps clients through the California cannabis permitting process by assisting with property surveys and site selection, facility floor plans, business and operations plans, environmental permits, and local and state licenses. Be Green’s team includes experienced land use planners, environmental impact compliance experts, and executive strategists, and they have offices in San Diego and Sacramento to assist clients throughout the state.

4. 3C Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting

As the name implies, 3C Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting provides end-to-end consulting for cannabis businesses. Services include evaluating startup financials and investor presentations, cannabis retail licensing support, site selection, facility design and development, compliance and regulatory support, as well as business planning and marketing development. 3C is led by CEO Nic Easley, who boasts more than 15 years of experience in commercial cannabis.

5. Canna Group Inc.

Canna Group Inc. helps its clients with four key elements of California cannabis licensing: site selection, retail floor plan, team development, and operational planning. Once licensed, Canna Group’s staff assists with equipment and vendor selection, compliance management, record keeping and documentation, security needs, and all other state-mandated cannabis retail requirements.

Canna Group is chaired by Grant Rollin, who also serves as CFO. Rollin spent nearly 20 years with Deloitte before going on to found and serve as a C-level executive in several high-value ventures. Canna Group’s CEO Aaron Silverman brings a strong cannabis background to the firm, having managed dispensaries, grown cannabis, and assisted numerous cannabis businesses with development, marketing, and branding.

6. VSE Solutions

Vision, strategy, and execution — three elements that make up the VSE Method, employed by the cannabis business advisors at VSE Solutions. This team of business development and cannabis industry veterans provides a suite of services including brand development, project and event management, marketing plan development and execution, and more. VSE Solutions has current and former clients in every sector of the industry — from cultivators and manufacturers down to retailers and testing labs.

7. SIVA

Glendale-based firm SIVA Enterprises provides full-service cannabis business development, offering application support, strategic partnerships, operations management, brand and product development, and more.


CAP Secures Two Major Cannabis Licensing Wins in San Bernardino, CA

CAP continues its successful navigation of the complex cannabis licensing process to obtain client licenses.

LONG BEACH and SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (PRWEB) March 01, 2019

Cannabis Advising Partners (CAP), a leading cannabis licensing, compliance, and business consultant, proudly announced that it attained two Commercial Cannabis Business (CCB) licenses for its clients at the San Bernardino City Council meeting on February 21. The two approved licenses achieved the highest ratings possible in their distinct categories.

“We’re thrilled for our clients’ successful outcomes in San Bernardino,” said Gasper Guarrasi, founder and chief executive officer at CAP. While explaining that the licensing process is time-consuming and demanding, Guarrasi credited the City of San Bernardino with its “efficient approach to the complex multi-phase process.”

Cannabis licenses in the city are awarded on a neutral point system, organized and run by HdL's cannabis program services, with the highest points holders earning the commercial business licenses. Out of sixteen total licenses awarded, CAP secured two of these positions—the number one and number three points holders overall. The two licenses were also rated number one in their respective categories of retail and microbusiness.

“CAP played an instrumental role in helping us prepare a business plan and application to help position us, our credentials and our story to secure a license,” said one of CAP’s successful clients upon learning of its win. “We look forward to our continued work with CAP on other licenses in other cities and through the compliance process.”

Background on Cannabis Advising Partners (CAP)
Cannabis Advising Partners (CAP) provides full-service licensing, compliance and business services to cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, microbusinesses and other industry-related companies. By utilizing its 20 plus years of experience in environmental compliance and management of more than 1,300 facilities, CAP provides the highest level of strategic advice in the industry. CAP advises and positions cannabis companies to properly navigate the new and complex requirements that surround all aspects of business formation and growth needs, including the submission of an annual license application, sustainability, business plans, legal consultation, investment strategies, social- equity requirements, branding and marketing, and the broad range of intricate compliance standards that are mandated by law. For more information, please visit http://www.cannabisadvising.com

Contact
Lori Rhodes
Cannabis Advising Partners http://www.cannabisadvising.com +1 800-819-0149

Web Link: https://www.prweb.com/releases/cap_secures_two_major_cannabis_licensing_wins_in_san_bernardino_ca/prweb16134775.htm