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Cultivation

Cultivation

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

Cultivation licenses

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.

Use of generators

Cannabis cultivators can use diesel-engine generators if they meet all state and local laws. These laws:

  • Support responsible usage
  • Limit air pollution
  • Protect the environment.

DCC regulations include basic requirements for operating generators and reporting energy usage. However, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), your local Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and your local jurisdiction may have additional generator operating and permitting requirements that you must follow.

We strongly encourage you to reach out to your local air quality district and local jurisdiction to understand the rules in place for your specific region. If you intend to utilize a generator to supplement power provided by a utility provider, we also strongly encourage you to reach out to your utility provider to understand their interconnection requirements.

Requirements for generators

All generators must have a non-resettable hour meter. If a generator does not come equipped with one, you must install an aftermarket non-resettable hour meter (CCR Title 4, §16306(d)). 

In addition, there are different requirements for generators based on their size and emissions, and installation and uses, as described below.

Larger industrial and commercial-type generators (50 hp or more)

Generators that are 50 hp or more must meet California’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure for stationary or portable engines. This means you need one of the following permits: 

  • Portable Equipment Registration Certificate (issued by CARB) 
  • Permit to Operate or other proof of engine registration (issued by local AQMD) 

Smaller consumer-type generators (less than 50 hp)

Generators that are less than 50 hp don’t typically require permits from CARB or your local AQMD. However, they can only be used for one of the following circumstances:

  • Emergency use, as defined in CARB regulations 
  • Limited use, which means they are used 80 hours or less in a calendar year

In addition, generators less than 50 hp must be built to one of the following standards: 

What is an emergency use?

Emergency use cases are narrowly defined by state laws. Generally, emergencies are limited to situations where there is power loss to a building, or when there is an urgent need for water or sewage pumping, including for fire suppression or flood prevention. Read the definitions for “emergency” and “emergency use”: 

Local requirements

Local AQMDs can set additional restrictions on the use of generators, such as a maximum number of hours per day that they can be run or limits on emissions. Reach out to your local AQMD for more information about requirements for your region.

Find your local AQMD or view a list of all local AQMDs.

Your local jurisdiction may have additional land-use and/or building code requirements related to your business or cannabis permit that affects your use of generators. Reach out to your local jurisdiction to learn if there are other local laws that apply to you.

Reporting energy sources to DCC

When applying for a license: Mixed-light and indoor cultivators must identify their power sources when they first apply for a state cannabis license (CCR Title 4, §15011(a)(5)). They also must get approval from DCC before changing their power sources (CCR Title 4, §15027(b)(2)).

When renewing a license: All cultivators must report their power sources when they renew their license (CCR Title 4, §15020(e)). This includes identifying use of generators and their greenhouse gas emission intensity.

Resources

Learn more about CARB’s Portable Equipment Registration Program

Find your local AQMD or view a list of all local AQMDs.

Read DCC’s regulations for cannabis cultivators.

Water permits

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:

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.