A massive licensing problem in California’s cannabis industry could see the state run out of legal marijuana by this summer.
Right now, most of California’s legal cannabis farms are operating under temporary licenses issued by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Come July, a staggering 6,924 of those temporary licenses will expire, leaving a mere 9 farms with a license to grow marijuana. Meanwhile, another 3,127 have applied for new licenses, but there might not be enough time to issue them since the CDFA takes upwards of four months to process each application.
The CDFA steps up its efforts to fast-track applications, but that’s easier said than done.
“The current state of affairs is worrisome to say the least,” Jenn Price – Director of State Compliance at Golden State Government Relations – told Leafly. “It isn’t just an issue of whether or not CDFA can power through that many applications in the time allotted, it’s whether the applications are even eligible for approval.”
Each application is 44 pages long, which is a huge burden on both the farmers applying for a license as well as regulators reviewing each file. On top of that, farms must meet very strict environmental regulations, so making sure each farm is compliant will also take time.
Given those obstacles, some experts estimate that California will only have 144 licensed cannabis farms by July. So it’s fair to say that California’s legal weed market is on the verge of a crisis. But that crisis will likely become a windfall for the state’s black market for marijuana.
“If California runs out of regulated cannabis, consumers will turn to the unregulated market, making it even more difficult for the few remaining licensed cannabis businesses to eke out a living,” said cannabis attorney Omar Figueroa.
Published: February 27, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News