Cannabis Cultivation Compliance: Everything You Need to Know

Cannabis Cultivation Compliance Knowledge

Cannabis cultivation compliance is essential in California. While the rules are rather in-depth, you’ll need to abide by them if you’re planning to cultivate cannabis in “the Golden State.”

Qualified patients in California can legally cultivate medical cannabis under Prop. 215, as long as they have a recommendation from a licensed physician. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act also permits adults over 21 to cultivate cannabis – up to six plants per parcel of land in California.

Locals can create cooperative gardens that include plants for up to five patients. However, locals can “reasonably regulate” these personal cannabis grows. The courts have also ruled that medical marijuana cultivation can be banned depending on the locals.

Local cultivators thinking beyond personal use can also obtain a license for commercial cultivation. However, compliance in the cannabis industry is more demanding than having the right license.

Let’s go over everything you should know to achieve cannabis compliance in California and avoid unnecessary fines.


Scope of Cultivation Licenses

Cannabis compliance audits can be frequent in the industry; it seems as though overseers are aggressively attempting to catch cultivators overlooking cannabis compliance laws. The first thing you can do to avoid this trap is to possess the right license.

To comply with CalCannabis regulations, there are two categories of licensing to choose from: Medicinal and Adult-Use Recreational. Depending on your operations, you’ll need a specific license to cultivate your crop.

Click to view different cultivation license types

Click to view cultivation licensing requirements

Click to view cultivation license application fees

Click to view cultivation licensing fees upon approval

You might also need to get permits from the state or local Water Board and Fish and Wildlife, as well as a CEQA analysis. As a commercial cannabis cultivator, you need to follow the existing state regulations to steer clear of fines and other administrative penalties.

To find your local ordinance code, you’ll search for the name of your city or county local codes. Then, you’ll search that list for “marijuana” or “cannabis.” Keep in mind that all of the online listings you find might not be up to date. So it’s a good idea to check with your city or county’s council or board meeting agendas on their websites to find the latest ordinances.


Environmental Cannabis Cultivation Compliance

Jeremy Valverde, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Acting Cannabis Program Director, had this to say:

“Environmental compliance is much less expensive than the penalties for cultivation-related violations. The state is here to help commercial cannabis cultivators of all sizes navigate the regulatory process. Cultivators can call or email regulatory staff to learn more about state requirements or attend a permitting workshop, when they are scheduled later this year.”

Cannabis cultivators violating one or more environmental laws can be subjected to civil penalties under Fish and Game Code, section 12025. The fines are per day, and include as much as $8,000 per unpermitted water diversion and as much as $20,000 for each instance involving discharging harmful materials into waters.

The CDFA has been given citation authority that it can use to fine illegal cultivators up to $30,000 per day, per violation. Civil penalties and possible licensing actions against one’s commercial cannabis license are also possible if the grower fails to get a license or comply with environmental regulations.


Resources for Cannabis Cultivation Licensing in California

The Cannifornia’s searchable database of cannabis laws in California cities will ensure you can find the information you need as quickly as possible. This resource is composed of months of research involving collecting policy information from the 482 cities and 58 counties in California.

The Online Application for CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing is where you’ll register for an account. From this page, you’ll find more resources to learn about the regulations in place.

The California Code of Regulations will provide you with plenty of insight for cannabis cultivation compliance. This documentation includes all of the information you’ll need. From temporary licensing to your cannabis waste management plan, this insight should be enough to guide you in the right direction.


Common Cannabis Cultivation Compliance Infractions

Knowing about and avoiding the most common compliance violations can save growers thousands of dollars. While this knowledge won’t replace having a cannabis compliance team in-house, it could help you maintain cannabis cultivation compliance and save you some headaches.

Minor violations are typically $100 to $500. However, the price increases as the violations become more serious.

Moderate violations come with a fine of $501 to $1,000. The more serious violations range from $1,001 to $5,000. Here’s a list of the top five medical cannabis cultivation infractions:

  1. The licensee fails to handle all on-premises cannabis inventories each day by the time the business closes.
  2. Material changes needed for standard operating procedures and regulated processes are not documented by the facility.
  3. There isn’t a complete inventory of material safety data sheets where the product is used or stored at the facility.
  4. An adequate Chemical and Pesticide Application Log isn’t being maintained by the facility.
  5. Waste and waste removal have not been properly documented at the cultivation facility.


How to Comply with BCC Regulations in California

The Bureau of Cannabis Control in California, one of the California cannabis agencies in charge of handling cannabis regulation, provides several resources worth looking over. On the BCC California’s Cannabis Regulations page, you’ll find all of the information you need to remain compliant, including Emergency Cannabis Regulations and the Cannabis Regulations currently in effect.

The cannabis compliance laws in California are in place to regulate the industry. From cannabis cultivation permitting to cannabis cultivation licensing and cannabis compliance reporting, actively participating in this regulation is the only way to ensure you don’t have to pay hefty fines.

For more information about the current California regulatory requirements, you can view presentations at

To find out more about the CDFW’s cannabis program, visit or email

To learn more about California’s cultivation licensing process and the California Cannabis Track-and-Trac Metrc System, visit, call (833) CALGROW or (833) 225-4769, or email

More information about the State Water Board’s role in cannabis cultivation permitting can be found at If you’re looking for permitting and compliance assistance, email, call (914) 341-5580, or email

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