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City of Santa Monica / Culver City: Cannabis Business License Regulations

Jar of cannabis buds, gold lid, notebooks, joint on black background

Starting up a new cannabis business is exciting, but there are a number of regulatory and legal hoops to jump through. There are many state and local agencies to deal with, each with their own licensing requirements, reporting requirements, and other regulations. If you are in Santa Monica or Culver City, you might be able to set up shop, but there are significant regulations to keep in mind, as well as severe restrictions, on top of California’s statewide regulatory requirements. The difference between the two cities, in fact, is quite stark. Read on for a discussion of the cannabis business license regulations in the City of Santa Monica and Culver City, and call a knowledgeable cannabis business licensing attorney with questions about the cannabis industry or for help setting up a recreational or medicinal marijuana business.

Santa Monica: Medical Cannabis Only

The City of Santa Monica allows for medicinal cannabis retail, with limited on-site cultivation, as well as light manufacturing operations (which the City refers to as “assembly type operations requiring no volatile solvents”). No other types of medical cannabis commercial operations are permitted, such as testing, manufacturing, or stand-alone commercial cultivation. Importantly, despite the state-wide legalization, the City of Santa Monica does not currently permit commercial distribution of recreational, non-medicinal cannabis.

The City of Santa Monica also severely limits the number of medicinal cannabis retailers. Currently, the City is only issuing two licenses for medicinal cannabis retail. The application window for the initial two licenses has already come and gone, having concluded on February 28, 2018. In fact, the first cannabis distributor in Santa Monica is only just now planning to open, with designs to commence business in December 2021 should their permit be granted.

Should the City open up to new applications, or if one of the two selected retailers should drop out, interested applicants must first apply for preliminary selection and a conditional use permit. If they are granted a preliminary selection, they can then proceed to properly apply for a business license, which includes paying all of the fees for the application, the conditional use permit, and the licenses (currently topping $22,000 in total).

The City is more open to applicants seeking a Medicinal Cannabis Light Manufacturing license. Activities would be restricted to light manufacturing, with no sales to the public. For that reason, there are no caps on the number of licenses the City is willing to allow.

Culver City: Multiple License Types, Limited Number Available

Unlike Santa Monica, Culver City is open to both medicinal and adult-use/recreational marijuana sales. Like Santa Monica, however, only a limited number of licenses are available, although the numbers are a bit more favorable. According to the initial regulations passed, Culver City is open to issuing the following number of licenses for each type of cannabis business activity:

  • Storefront Retail: 3
  • Delivery-only retail (inclusive of storefront retailers that also deliver): 5
  • Manufacturing: 6
  • Distribution: 6
  • Cultivation: 3
  • Testing Laboratories: 4

Applicants for licenses are selected through a multi-stage screening process. To operate a storefront retail commercial cannabis business, for example, one step of the process includes a public meeting where the public can comment on the proposed retail storefront. There are several additional requirements, such as locational limitations (no cannabis storefront can be located within 600 feet of a school, within 45 feet of a residential zoning district, or within 1,000 feet of another cannabis retailer, for example).

For help with the complex application and screening process, and to find out when additional licenses may become available, talk to an experienced and knowledgeable cannabis business licensing attorney.

Get Cannabis License Help from a Seasoned California Cannabis Business Lawyer

If you are interested in setting up a cannabis business or are dealing with regulatory, tax, licensing, or other legal issues with your hemp, CBD, or cannabis business in Los Angeles or elsewhere in Southern California, call McReynolds Vardanyan, LLP, in Glendale at 818-855-2115. Our California cannabis business lawyers will work with you to get your budding business off the ground efficiently, effectively, and legally.

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