City awarded $5.7 million to help local cannabis businesses receive their annual state licenses

The City of Sacramento has been awarded $5.7 million in state funding to help local cannabis businesses and applicants receive their annual state licenses.

The City in November applied to receive this funding from the state’s newly created Department of Cannabis Control. Proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and passed by the State Legislature, the DCC’s Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program provides funding for local jurisdictions to aid in transitioning high numbers of provisional cannabis licenses into annual licenses.

“The City of Sacramento is very grateful to receive this funding from the state” said Davina Smith, who leads the City’s Office of Cannabis Management. “It will go a long way in helping to ensure that local cannabis businesses can receive their annual state licenses and remain in compliance with the legal market.”

California’s cannabis licensing program essentially is a dual license system. To operate legally in the state, cannabis businesses need to hold both a local and state license.

To help bring businesses into compliance with the legal, regulated market, the state years ago established a provisional license program. With this temporary license, businesses are allowed by the state to operate while certain parts of their annual license application – such as California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements – remain in process. Over time, more than 70% of the state licenses issued were provisional, rather than annual.

The provisional license program was scheduled to sunset on Jan. 1, 2021, which would have resulted in a significant number of cannabis businesses losing their licenses. Assembly Bill 141 extended the program and created rolling sunset dates, based on license and applicant type.

The state’s Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program supports local governments in processing substantial workloads associated with transitioning a significant number of businesses into the regulated market and creating a more streamlined local licensing process.

In the coming months, the City plans to hire contractors to create a virtual cannabis navigation system in which both applicants and current license holders can receive assistance in regulatory compliance, planning, building, fire and security issues, Smith said. In addition, the City will be updating its ability to track an applicant’s/licensee’s progress in the cannabis permitting process so the City can proactively assist.

The City also has earmarked $900,000 of the funding for grants/rebates for security upgrades to allow local businesses to comply with the new security requirements the Sacramento Police Department has instituted in response to recent cannabis burglaries, Smith said.

The City’s award of the state’s Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program is expected to go to the City Council for formal acceptance on Jan. 18.

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