California’s Re-Adopted Emergency Regulations – What Cannabis Cultivators Need to Know

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), through its CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing division, is the state agency designated under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) as responsible for issuing licenses to commercial cannabis cultivators in California.

The CDFA issued emergency regulations for cannabis cultivators in November 2017, and has now proposed readopting those regulations for another 180 days. Based on feedback from the public and stakeholders in the industry, the CDFA has proposed some changes to these regulations.

This blog post will highlight the changes to the CDFA emergency regulations and identify key issues for cannabis cultivators. In separate posts, we will be describing the changes made by the Bureau of Cannabis Control and the California Department of Public Health. Click here for those updates.

Changes to Emergency Regulations:

  • License applicants can now submit just one application for both adult-use and medical cannabis licenses, and pay one licensing fee. The amount of the licensing fee remains unchanged from the previous emergency regulations. For applicants who want to operate in both markets, this is much-desired change from the previous process, which required two applications and the payment of two separate licensing fees.


  • Any licensee can permanently conduct business with any other licensee, regardless of medical or adult-use designation. The emergency regulations proposed a July 1, 2018 deadline for what was deemed a “transition period” that allowed medical cannabis licensees to contract with adult-use licensees. That period has now been made permanent.


  • The definition of canopy has been revised to clarify how a canopy will be measured for indoor, mixed-light, and outdoor license types as follows:
    • Indoor and Mixed-Light: canopy will be calculated in square feet and measured using the room boundaries of each area containing mature plants
    • Outdoor: canopy will be calculated in square feet and measured using the physical boundaries of all areas containing mature plants


  • A new definition of light deprivation has been added, meaning the elimination of natural light in order to induce flowering


  • Temporary cannabis cultivation license applications must now include:
    • a proposed cultivation plan
    • identification of applicable water sources
    • evidence of enrollment in water-quality-protection programs with the applicable Regional Water Quality Control Board or State Water Resources Control Board or written verification that enrollment is not necessary

The new emergency regulations do not address the unsettled policy dispute over cultivation acreage caps. The California Growers Association filed suit in January to challenge the CDFA’s regulation that allows one person or company to hold multiple cannabis cultivation licenses, effectively bypassing any caps on cannabis farm sizes. The California Growers Association argues in the lawsuit that allowing large cultivation operations will reduce the ability of small and medium businesses to compete economically in the regulated market. Click here to read more about the lawsuit.

If you have any questions about the regulations, please contact Justin Santarosa in our Los Angeles office.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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