Legally starting a cannabis cultivation farm takes registration with the State, applying for local permits, meet all of the requirements for the inspections, have your site plan approved. 



The process of registering and permitting a cannabis cultivation farm in California is based on State and local County requirements. These steps are generalized based on Statewide requirements but every County will have a process set out on the County government website.

One Example of the Process in  Humboldt County

Stage 1:

Determination of Eligibility and Application

The first step is to gather the appropriate documents and determine the local requirements for the location of the purposed cultivation site. All Counties require a background check and a Business Tax License.

  • Business Tax License Application
  • Corporate Documentation (Articles, Bylaws/Operating Agreement, Statement of Information, Certificate in Good Standing California Tax Franchise Board, BOE Seller’s Permit).
  • Each Principal must undergo a criminal history check demonstrating compliance with the eligibility requirements of HMC Section 5.42.050 for background checks.
  • Proof of ownership of the proposed location of the business or a signed and notarized statement from the Property Owner.

Stage 2:

Evaluation and Ranking for Application

Most applications, depending on the location, will be evaluated based on criteria given importance by a point system for the application to be evaluated with.


Check with your local County to see the exact scoring criteria. Some example stipulations include:
• The proposed location of the business
• Business Plan
• Neighborhood Compatibility Plan
• Safety and Security Plan

Stage 3:

Second Evaluation and Initial Inspection

Applications that achieve the first ranking requirements, move onto the second round. The proposed site is then inspected by the assigned City designee if there is an existing building structure.


The second-ranking will be scored based on local requirements such as:

  • The final location
  • Maximum points will be given for those proposed to be located within a business park or complex with other medical marijuana businesses.
  • Completed business plan
  • Community Benefits
  • Enhanced Product Safety
  •  Environmental Benefits
  • Labor & Employment
  • Local Enterprise
  • Neighborhood Compatibility Plan
  • Qualifications of Principals
  • Safety and Security Plan

Stage 4:

Final Evaluation and Selection

The last phase involves finalizing all of the requirements to get public approval by the local authority. This can be generalized into four steps:


1. Public Meeting of finalist applicants for all categories of medical marijuana businesses (if there are still available permits in those categories to be issued by the City).
2. Selection Committee’s final review and evaluation.
3. The city staff prepares and presents a final report to City Council.
4. City Council makes the final selection.

Learn more with this California Secretary of State “10 Easy Steps to Start a Cannabis Business Entity in California”


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