Cultivators grow all of the cannabis plants that are harvested, sold as flower, and made into products. Their operations look like other agricultural operations in California. Cannabis cultivation is a multi-step process that includes:
- Preparing the soil and growing medium
- Planting seeds or clones
- Irrigating, fertilizing, and managing pests
- Harvesting plants
- Drying, curing and trimming plants
If you want to grow cannabis and sell it in California, you will need a cultivation license. The type of cultivation license you need depends on:
- The size of your canopy (the area where you grow mature plants)
- What kind of lighting is used
There are different licenses if you:
- Grow seedlings and immature plants only for use by other businesses or sale to consumers (nursery license)
- Dry, cure and trim cannabis after harvest; package cannabis; or make pre-rolls for other licensees (processor license)
Use of pesticides
You can use pesticides on cannabis plants if they meet guidelines set by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). DPR has resources about:
- What pesticides are okay to use
- What pesticides cannot be used
- Pest management practices
- Pesticide safety
Pesticide use is enforced by DPR and county agricultural commissioners. Contact your county agricultural commissioner if you have questions about pesticides.
Cannabis cultivators have a responsibility to protect the environment and be responsible stewards of the land. That’s why it’s important to understand how your operations may impact the environment.
All agricultural operations in California are required to get permits and follow rules set by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Water Boards. These rules help protect water quality and conserve water resources.
CDFW and Water Board rules prevent:
- Degradation of water quality
- Excessive water diversions that can injure or kill fish or dry up small streams
- Sediment and debris being washed into waterways
- Changes to land that can harm streams and wildlife, like erosion or grading
- Damage to native fish and wildlife habitats
- Impacts to threatened or endangered species
Cannabis cultivators must have:
- A Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement with CDFW or written confirmation that one is not needed
- Any permits required by the Water Board’s Cannabis Policy
CDFW has profiles of cannabis cultivators who use best practices and tips for managing your cultivation site in a wildlife-friendly way.
Appellations of Origin
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is developing an appellations program for cannabis. Appellations are special names reserved for cannabis:
- Grown in a certain geographical area
- Grown using certain production standards
Appellations are used for other products, too. For example, the wine industry uses appellations to tell consumers which region the grapes were grown and wine was made.
The cannabis appellations program will:
- Help consumers understand where cannabis was grown
- Promote regional products and local businesses
- Prevent misrepresentation of the origin of a product
CDFA is working on regulations for the cannabis appellations program. Once they are adopted, CDFA will begin accepting applications to create an Appellation of Origin.