January 22, 2021

How to get a hemp license in California

In California, hemp licenses are given out by counties. Counties work with and account to the CDFA, which is a food and agriculture agency in California. So, you need to download the application from the CDFA website and mail it along with supporting documents and the check to your county agricultural commissioner. 

Here is the step-by-step instruction on how to get a hemp license in California:

  1. Get a fingerprint-based FBI background check and get it delivered to your county’s office. You can order FBI reports via mail, email, or authorized FBI providers. On your application, you will need to show how the report will arrive at the county’s office ( e-mail or mail). The county will refuse you the license if your FBI report shows any finding of guilt for a felony related to a controlled substance. For San Diego county, you can find all relevant information here. Also, please remember that an FBI check needs to be ordered for all key participants that you put on your application. 
  2.  Fill out the hemp license application and email it with all supporting documents to your California county.

There are two different hemp growing licenses. The first license is for growers . And the second license is for breeders. A license for growers allows you to farm hemp. With this license, you will plant seeds, grow and harvest plants, get bio mess and produce hemp fibers.

A breeder's license allows you to breed various types of seeds and strains, which are intended for sale or research. With a breeders’ license, you can create an intellectual property by obtaining a plant patent. With that patent, you will be able to sell your patented seeds to other growers.

Nothing prevents you from getting both licenses at the same time. It all comes down to the amount of paperwork and time you are willing to invest.

  1. There are a couple of nuances that you need to know when it comes to filling out hemp license applications. 1. As a part of the hemp application, you will need to submit the following information: Assessor’s Parcel Number, its GPS coordinates, and its size. You will also need to indicate the purpose of the site, whether it will be used only for storage or cultivation, or both. The map of your site should support all of this information. Each county has its own requirement on what should be depicted on the map. It makes sense to call the county directly before investing time into something that could be rejected. 858-614-7786 is a phone number of the San Diego Hemp Cultivation Program and in my experience, they are pretty accommodating.
  2. If you applying for a Growers hemp license, you will need to provide a list of all approved cultivars that you are planning to plant. Currently, California allows the import of seeds from other states. The state even allows the import of seeds from foreign countries, but this rule contradicts the CDFA, which specifically states that foreign seeds are not permitted. CDFA wants to know about the product you are growing and if they later find out that you were growing a completely different cultivar, they will revoke your license and won’t allow you to renew it. There is no such thing as a list of approved cultivars. There are only requirements as to what can be approved and how. To identify what can be approved, you will need to read 3 CCR § 4920 .
  3. All breeders must attach a Variety Development plan to their application.
  4. The application has a question if hemp will be grown on the site licensed to cultivate or process cannabis. You will not be allowed to grow hemp on the site registered with CalCannabis

This is just a brief outlook of Hemp license applications in California. If you have any questions you can contact them directly at (916) 654-0435. They are pretty good at returning their phone calls.

Sincerely,

Daria Nagal, Cannabis, and Hemp CPA