Application Regulations

Successfully completing the commercial cannabis application process will require compliance with a broad array of local and state laws and regulations. In most instances, completing the process will require approvals from every land use department in the County and several state agencies. Cannabis cultivation is an intensely regulated industry subject to its own chapter in the County’s zoning code (Chapter 17.95). The eligibility threshold for any given cultivation site is determined by the Planning Department in conjunction with the Division of Cannabis Control, however, like all businesses in California, cannabis cultivation activities are also subject to many other areas of regulation involving the Building Department, Public Works, Environmental Health, and other County Departments and numerous state agencies. Below is a non-exclusive list of various compliance standards that must be met and pre-requisites that must be satisfied before a commercial cannabis permit can be issued.

Regulatory Compliance

Applicant Eligibility and Parcel or Premises Eligibility Under Chapter 17.95 of the County Code

View Chapter 17.95, Calaveras County’s Current Commercial Cannabis Regulatory Ordinance here. This chapter contains the essential requirements for eligibility, operating restrictions for commercial cannabis cultivation businesses and makes references to numerous other regulatory programs that are involved in commercial cannabis cultivation permit approvals.

Eligibility to Apply (§17.95.050)

To determine whether you are eligible to apply to the program, carefully review the ordinance, particularly §17.95.050.D.1 to learn about whether you can procure eligibility to apply to the program please carefully review §17.95.050.D.15 of the County Code.

If you have questions about the ordinance and whether you are eligible to apply to the program or how you can acquire eligibility to apply for the County’s commercial cannabis program, please review the Frequently Asked Questions Page. View the Cannabis FAQ page here.

Cannabis Background Clearance Badges (Chapter 9.22 of the County Code)

Pursuant to §17.95.050.D.5 and §17.95.070.B, and under Chapter 9.22 of the Calaveras County Code, all owners of commercial cannabis premises and all workers engaged directly in commercial cannabis activities must apply for and receive a Cannabis Background Clearance Badge or “CBCB” from the County.

Review Chapter 9.22 the County’s Code7 here.

The County has not yet received an originating agency identification number (“ORI” number) and can therefore not yet accept applications for CBCBs. Once the CBCB process in in place, the Division of Cannabis Control will contact all applicants as soon as we are able to accept and process CBCB applications.

Parcel and Premisis Eligibility

To determine whether the parcel or parcels you would like to use for your proposed cultivation site is suitable for commercial cannabis cultivation, carefully review the acreage and zoning requirements that are found in §17.95.050.D.2 and the set back and separation requirements of §17.95.090.Q.

 

Mitigation Measures and CEQA Compliance for State Licensure

In order to be consistent with the Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) and EIR addendums that were adopted by the County, the County’s new cannabis regulatory ordinance had to include certain measures to mitigate identified environmental impacts. Additionally, Business and Professions Code §26050.2(a)(1) requires that, if compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act is not complete, it must be underway before a provisional license may be issued. So, not only does the County’s process require that each commercial cannabis applicant has demonstrated that all mitigation measures have been implemented, but the California Department of Agriculture will also require compliance with the mitigation measures and the terms of our programmatic EIR before it will issue a provisional license.

Mitigation Measures

Green House Gas Emissions Offsets

§17.95.060.B.11 and §17.95.140.B require that commercial cannabis operations demonstrate reductions in annual Green House Gas (GHG”) emissions as a pre-requisite to issuance of a permit and as part of the annual permit continuation process.

Evidence of GHG offsets can be as simple as providing proof of purchase and retirement of offset credits from an approved retailer. The County Environmental Management Agency (“EMA”) is the County Department in which our Air Pollution Control District office is housed. The EMA created a carbon offset calculator that you can use to determine how many credits are required for your proposed cultivation site download the Calculator here. The Air Pollution Control Manager and the EMA Department Head have also drafted a GHG mitigation document that will help guide you through the process of purchasing carbon offset credits. You can review that document by here.

If you wish to undertake a carbon offset project to limit or reduce the total number of carbon credits that you are required to purchase pursuant to §17.95.060.B.11.c, then you will need to have your total carbon offset verified by a an Air Resources Board (“ARB”) accredited Offset Verification Body or Offset Verifier. To learn more about your own offset verification or to find a list of ARB accredited verifiers go to https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/cc/capandtrade/offsets/verification/verification.htm

The County Department of Environmental Health which is the home to the County Air Pollution Control District office has produced a FAQ and information sheet that will help you decide how to meet the mitigation requirements of the County code. That FAQ can be viewed here: EMA GHG Mitigation FAQ.

Traffic Impact Fees

§17.95.070.D requires payment of RIM Fees before a permit can be issued. RIM Fees are calculated on a “per trip” basis in accordance with county adopted traffic impact fee programs, with credits applied for any existing land uses. These RIM Fees are calculated the same way for any development that impacts county roads.

After you submit your application, you can go to the counter at Public Works and ask to pay your Fees. Public Works will work with you to identify the number of new trips generated by your site. Public Works uses a fee calculator to make a determination about your fees. You can get a generalized estimate of what your RIM Fees will be using a RIM Fee calculator by  here: Rim Fee Calculator. Please note that, depending on the location of your cultivation site and whether the proposed site of your cannabis business is within a particular benefit basin, the fee amount generated by this calculator may be different from the fee you are ultimately charged by Public Works.

Once you have paid your RIM Fees, you can submit a copy of your receipt to the Division of Cannabis Control. The receipt will be placed in your application file and this requirement will be marked off of your permit requirements checklist.  Commercial cannabis cultivators are required to pay these Fees just as every other business in Calaveras County does. These Fees are also paid as part of building permit fees, for development projects, and by every new business that opens up in the County pursuant to Chapter 12.10 of the County Code.

RIM Fees are one time fees. There are no recurring charges for impacts upon county roads unless additional site development occurs in the future. The amount of the RIM Fees are set by a resolution of the County Board of Supervisors. In cases where non-residential project types are not specifically listed in the fee tables adopted by the Board, the Public Works Department calculates fees based upon industry standard International Traffic Engineers (ITE) trip generation factors or by using data for the particular kind of land use and operation characteristics of the proposed business. In this case, Calaveras County utilizes ITE data consistent with other public agency adopted cannabis fee programs.

The maintenance and improvement of county roads is an expensive proposition, and fees are determined based upon the estimated trips that will be generated by your business activity. Once again, these are one time fees, not annual charges. These are fees that are paid by all businesses that open their doors or expand their services in Calaveras County. The amount of the fees are based upon the total daily car trips on County Roads that are generated by the operational characteristics of the business.

Well Pump Tests and Written Reports

The County’s Commercial Cannabis EIR identified impacts to ground water supply as a potential impact of the implementation of a commercial cannabis program. In order to mitigate this impact, the Board of Supervisors included a provision to measure and monitor static water levels of wells that are used in commercial cannabis operations.

§17.95.070.I requires that any cultivator who relies on one or more wells as a water source for the commercial cannabis activity submit a written report to the Division of Cannabis Control. These written reports must provide the following information:

  1. The average daily water use of the commercial cannabis operation during the months of July through September; and
  2. Provide an assessment of the well’s static water level, production capacity, and recovery rate.

The required report shall be prepared by a qualified professional who is a state licensed A-1 General Contractor, a C-57 well drilling contractor, 6-61.D-21 limited specialty contractor (machinery and pumps), registered health specialist, a certified hydrogeologist, or engineering geologist.

§17.95.090.EE requires that a written report and well pump test described above, be repeated annually for 5 years following the issuance of the initial permit.

To learn more about these requirements and how to demonstrate compliance with them please review the Adequate Water Supply FAQ's that was created by the County’s Environmental Health Agency.

Set Back and Separation Requirements

The County’s EIR identified offensive odors as an impact of implementing a commercial cannabis regulatory program. In order to at least partially mitigate the impacts of odors, the Board of Supervisors imposed minimum set back requirements for outdoor and mixed-light cultivation sites.

Setback requirements

The term “setback” is defined in §17.95.020.NNN. It is the “distance required between a cannabis cultivation site and the nearest property line of a parcel that is not owned or leased by the permittee” or applicant.

Set back requirements for cultivation premises are specified in §17.95.090.I. Setback requirements are different for applicants if multiple cultivation premises are located on the parcel or contiguous, concurrently controlled parcels, so carefully read §17.95.090.F.5.

Separation requirements

The term “separation” is defined in §17.95.020.MMM. It is defined as the “distance that is required between a cultivation site or parcel and the parcel boundary of sensitive use, as required in Section 17.95.090.Q”.

The operating restrictions applicable to “sensitive uses” are as follows:

§17.95.090.Q Separation from Sensitive Uses

Commercial cultivation shall provide separation of one thousand feet from the cultivation site or six hundred feet from the property line, whichever is greater, from any of the following sensitive uses in existence at the time the permit is issued:

  1. A park.
  2. A school providing instruction in kindergarten or any grades 1 through 12, as defined by state law.
  3. A daycare center, as defined by state law.
  4. A youth center, as defined by state law.
  5. For outdoor or mixed-light premises, a state scenic highway or national scenic byway.
  6. The county central library and its branches. 

 

Depending on which measurement is used, the distance shall be measured in a straight line from the property line of the sensitive use to the closest premises cultivation site boundary or to the closest property line of the parcel containing the premises.

A Day Care Center is defined in Business and Professions Code §26001(o) and Health and Safety Code §1596.76. To learn the location of daycare centers to determine if your proposed cultivation premises can meet the separation requirements you can search here:

Pursuant to §17.95.030.F, it is the applicant that bears the burden of proving that their proposed cultivation area meets the separation and set back requirements of the code.

Remediation of Former Cultivation Site (§17.95.070.H and §17.95.130 )

If you or your predecessor in interest have a former cultivation site, then you must demonstrate that it has been remediated before the permit for your new cultivation site can be approved. To schedule an inspection of your former cultivation site call and leave a message at (209) 754 6336.

The Calaveras County Code Compliance Department, at the Direction of the County’s Chief Building Official, has developed procedures and criteria for establishing that a former cultivation site has been remediated within the meaning of the Code.

The minimum steps for demonstrating that a site has been remediated include, but are not limited to, the following: implementation of mitigation measures to prevent erosion and sediment run-off, removal of junk and debris, and proper storage or removal and disposal of rodenticides, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. Additionally, where grading permits are required for earthmoving undertaken on sites any necessary grading permits must be finaled. If there are unpermitted structures or temporary structures on the former cultivation site, those structures must be removed or brought into compliance with the building code and be permitted. For a complete list of requirements and standards see §17.95.130.C.1-9.

Cash Deposit or Surety Bond

§17.95.070 requires that all applicants either submit a $5,000 dollar cash deposit or provide evidence of a surety bond in the amount of $5,000 to the division of cannabis control. The County has prepared a surety bond form, which is called “DCC-6 Cannabis Permit Bond” and it is available for download by clicking the Application Button on the main Cannabis Control page or by clicking here.

The purpose of this requirement is to help the County defray the costs of enforcing site remediation if a commercial cannabis cultivation site is abandoned in the future.

Basic Regulations and Legal Requirements for Operating a Business

Commercial cannabis cultivation businesses must meet all the basic requirements of the Building Code and Fire Code. Additionally, commercial cannabis cultivation businesses must comply with work-place safety requirements, must comply with all state and local grading and storm-water run-off regulations and comply with all state and local environmental health regulations.

Basic Regulations and Legal Requirements

Building Code Compliance and Inspections

Building and Fire Code Compliance

§17.95.070.E requires that an applicant provide “evidence of a site inspection conducted by an enforcement official resulting in a finding that the premises and parcel satisfactorily comply with the provisions of this chapter” and §17.95.090.H requires that the commercial cannabis “premises be in full compliance with . . . building, safety, sanitation, labor, and technical codes and requirements relevant to obtaining necessary building, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, grading, or other permits.”

No cultivation permits will be issued by the County until the applicant has established that all structures used in their cultivation plan are suitable for their proposed use and that all required permits have been signed off. Additionally, violations of building codes or other regulations designed to protect the health and safety of occupants of buildings, workers, or customers may be grounds for revocation of a commercial cannabis cultivation permit if a cultivator fails to correct violations after being notified that such violations exist.

Applicability of these codes is not only a pre-requisite to the issuance of a local permit and an operating restriction that will always apply to keeping your permit, but strict compliance with the California Building Code and Fire Code are also pre-requisites to the issuance of a state license from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (“CDFA”) and can be the basis for revocation of a state license as well:

Business and Professions Code § 26066. Cultivation Conducted in Accordance with State and Local Laws.

Indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation by persons and entities licensed under this division shall be conducted in accordance with state and local laws related to land conversion, current building and fire standards, grading, electricity usage, water usage, water quality, woodland and riparian habitat protection, agricultural discharges, and similar matters. State agencies, including, but not limited to, the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Water Resources Control Board, the California regional water quality control boards, and traditional state law enforcement agencies shall address environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation and shall coordinate when appropriate with cities and counties and their law enforcement agencies in enforcement efforts.

Business and Professions Code § 26056. Application of Building Standards and Regulations Relating to Hazardous Materials.

The requirements of Sections 13143.91, 131452, and 131463  of the Health and Safety Code shall apply to all licensees.

1 H&S § 13143.9 requires compliance with building standards and other fire and life safety regulations for handling hazardous materials and annual inventory requirements.

2 H&S § 13145 Local requirements and enforcement “relating to fire and panic safety adopted by the State Fire Marshal and published in the California Building Standards Code.”

3 H&S § 13146 The requirements of the Fire and Life Safety Requirements of the Building code falls upon the County and or the Fire Chief of the Fire Protection District.

You May Need Additional Permits from the Building Department even if you are not Building Anything New

Current building standards (Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations) apply to all new construction and to all “changes of occupancy.” A change in occupancy is defined in the building code as “A change in the purpose or level of activity within a building that involves a change in application of the requirements of this code.” In other words, if a structure was a residential accessory structure such as a shop, barn, or garage, and your cultivation plan describes the structure as being used as a work area for employees, then there has been a change in occupancy and different building standards may apply and permit requirements may be triggered. 

The Chief Building Official (“CBO”) of Calaveras County is charged with interpretation and enforcement of the requirements of the California Building Code within Calaveras County. The Building Code and The Health and Safety Code apply to commercial cannabis premises just as they apply to all other businesses within the County. Whether or not the conditions on any commercial cannabis premises comply with the requirements of the California Building Code will be determined by the CBO or his designee.

Under §1.11.2.1.1 of the Building Code, the Fire Marshal of the fire district in which your cultivation premises is located is charged with enforcement of the building standards that relate to fire and panic safety and other regulations of the State Fire Marshal. Some fire districts have more stringent standards than those that are adopted by the State Fire Marshal. If your Fire District has no Fire Marshal, then the Calaveras County CBO is charged with enforcing fire, panic, and life safety regulations. You should find out what fire district you are in and contact the fire district to find out what requirements apply to your cultivation site.

Mandatory Site Inspections

Pursuant to §17.95.070.E, no commercial cannabis permit can be issued until a commercial cultivation premises has been inspected by the Building Department. Once you’ve submitted your premises plan the Building Department will conduct a parcel review to determine whether all of the buildings identified in your premises plan are permitted for their intended use. If it appears that there are no Building Code Compliance issues on the face of your premises plan the Division of Cannabis Control will notify you that you are eligible for a Building Code Compliance inspection. You will then be able to schedule an inspection with a County Building Inspector and if required in your district, a Fire Marshal's inspection.  

The CBO has worked with the Director of Environmental Health, the County Agricultural Commissioner, Code Compliance and Public Works to establish an inspection checklist.

In order to assist commercial cannabis cultivators the CBO has promulgated the following policies regarding hoop houses and cargo containers within Calaveras County. 

Review the CBO’s Hoop House or Hoop Structure Policy here.

Review the CBO’s Cargo Container or Intermodal Container Policy here.

Grading Permits and Encroachment Permits

In order to pass inspection and to comply with applicable laws, or to demonstrate that your former cultivation site has been remediated in accordance with §17.95.0130, you may need to apply to the Department of Public Works for a grading permit.

Below is a generalized table for the requirement thresholds of a grading permit that has been provided by the Department of Public Works. You may need to speak to a design review specialist or Public Works staff member to determine whether or not a grading permit is required for your commercial cannabis application.

Grading Permit Requirements

Table of grading requirements

Find more information about grading permit thresholds and requirements here. View the Grading Permit FAQ's here.

Additional information about other regulatory requirements that will likely affect your commercial cannabis cultivation premises if you are an outdoor or mixed light cultivator can be found by navigating to the Calaveras County Public Works Department’s Land Development Website.

Encroachment Permits

During the commercial cannabis regulatory period under the County’s expired urgency ordinance, County staff observed numerous unpermitted encroachments or new access points onto County roads and even onto state highways. There are specific design requirements that apply to all access onto public roads. These encroachments must be designed legally to keep drivers and pedestrians safe, prevent environmental harm, and protect roads and road infrastructure from additional damage.

You may need to get an encroachment permit or eliminate an illegal encroachment if there is an entry or exit onto a parcel upon which your proposed cultivation premises is located or where your former cultivation site was located.

Encroachment permits are required for all work performed in the right-of-way of a county maintained road. This includes roads maintained in County Service Areas (CSAs) or Permanent Road Divisions (PRDs). Caltrans has its own requirements for encroachments upon State Highways, and any applicant must reach out to Caltrans to satisfy their requirements. If a proposed driveway, road, or other improvement does not affect county roads, then no encroachment permit is necessary. However, we strongly recommend that you thoroughly review your proposed work with a professional to ensure the work is done properly and legally. We also strongly encourage applicants to work with their neighbors to properly mitigate their impacts to these local roads. The most recent version of our encroachment permit application for driveways (and other minor items) can be found here.

Employee Housing, Illegal Camping, Adequate Workplace Facilities

Under the Urgency Ordinance, many registrants were unaware of the basic requirements of the Building Code or the minimum environmental health standards that must be met for employee housing. There were numerous cultivation sites with unpermitted outdoor showers and kitchens. Staff also identified many sites as having illegally installed latrines, illegal grey water and black water run-off disposal violations. Employees were housed in everything from tents and RVs, to tree houses and cargo containers. As is discussed above under Building and Fire Code Compliance, these kinds of conditions will disqualify commercial cannabis applicants and will be the basis for revocation of both state and local licenses.

Environmental Health Department, On-Site Wastewater, and Enrollment in Applicable State-Mandated Regulatory Programs

Onsite Wastewater (Septic System or Sewer Connection)

It is very likely that your cultivation site will be required to be connected to a sewer utility or have an on-site wastewater system (septic tank). If you already have an on-site wastewater system, County personnel will determine whether it is adequate for its intended use.

View the Information Sheet and FAQ's that has been created by the County’s EMA Director here. This information sheet is not comprehensive, but is a good starting point to learn more about onsite wastewater requirements. The County’s Environmental Management Agency regulates wastewater disposal systems and will consider a number of factors in determining whether your onsite wastewater system is adequate for its intended use. Please review the questions on the second page of the document and be prepared to provide that information to County Staff.    

Solid Waste and Organic Cannabis Waste

Every business must have a solid waste disposal protocol that complies with applicable state and local law. The EMA manager has prepared a Solid Waste informational document and questionnaire to help you understand what requirements must be satisfied on your cultivation site for solid waste disposal.  View the Solid Waste FAQ's Sheet here.

Under state law and local regulations, cannabis waste may be handled in a variety of ways, but it is subject to strict regulations. The County’s EMA department has prepared a document which explains what options you have in in disposing of cannabis waste, including on-site composting.

Please carefully review the Cannabis Waste FAQ's to ensure that you implement a waste management plan that complies with the law. Failure to observe applicable state and local law is a violation of sections 17.95.090.B and H and can be the basis for administrative fines and, potentially, license revocation.

Calaveras County Agricultural Commissioner – Enrollment in State Regulatory Programs and Site Plan Review

The County Agriculture Office is a division of the County’s Environmental Management Agency. All commercial cannabis cultivators will need to interface with the Agriculture Commissioners office to get their weights and measures seals and, in most cases enroll in one or more of the state mandated programs administered by the Agriculture Commissioners Office.

To ensure that each cannabis applicant interfaces with the Ag Department and learns about the programs they must enroll in, the Division of Cannabis Control will be requiring that each applicant visit the Ag department. As part of the application review process, the Division of Cannabis Control will provide the Ag Commissioner a copy of your site plan. At a minimum, you will need to have your business license application stamped by the Ag Commissioner, but other action may be required.

Department of Pesticide Regulation

Visit the Ag Commissioner’s website. Many cultivators who use only “organic” products believe that they are exempt from participating in the Department of Pesticide program, but this is generally not the case; you can visit the Ag Commissioner’s Pesticide Use webpage here.

The County Agriculture Commissioner created a Powerpoint presentation specifically for commercial cannabis operators regarding the safe use, handling, and storage of pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides; it contains a lot of useful information. You can view it here.

Compliance Guides

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