California Cannabis Countdown: Culver City (Updated!)

California marijuana businesses Culver City
Cannabis businesses are finally coming to the Heart of Screenland.

Culver City plans to release its commercial cannabis applications before the end of March. On monday, the City Council voted to adopt its proposed cannabis business permit application process. Based on the released draft application documents, getting a commercial cannabis permit in Culver City is not going to be an easy process.

Here is a breakdown the application processes per license type:

Storefront Retail Applications:

In the first phase of the application process, applicants must submit live scans, zoning verification documents, and their cannabis business application. City staff and the Culver City Police Department will review that information and, if sufficient and complete, applicants will move on in the process. A three-person panel of City staff members will review and rank the applications; reviewers will read business plans, security plans, and design/location documents and rank each application on a point scale.

The panel will then choose a minimum of three and a maximum of six applicants with the highest average ranking to proceed. Other applicants will be put on hold pending the outcome of the permitting process. A five-person review committee composed of City staff members will then interview the ranked applicants. At least two of the largest equity holders and the day-to-day operations manager of the applicant must be present for the interview. The three applicants with the highest average scores will then proceed in the licensing process. In the event of any tie amongst applicants, a lottery will be used to choose who moves on.

Only after interviews or the potential lottery will these 3-6 applicants finally apply for a Conditional Use Permit (“CUP”) and other required Los Angeles County permits. Upon applying for the CUP, applicants will present their building and operational proposals at a public City Council meeting, and the Council will either approve or deny the permits accordingly. If the Council approves, the applicants will then apply for their Culver City Business Tax Certificate (“BTC”), all required City permits, and begin moving forward with their build-outs. Applicants will then pay permit fees, complete their build-outs, and City staff will perform on-site inspections. If everything checks out, the CUP and BTC will finally issue to the applicant.

Non-Storefront Retail Applications (i.e., Manufacturing, Distribution, Delivery-only retail, Cultivation, and Testing Labs):

In the first phase of the application process, applicants must submit live scans, zoning verification documents, and part one of their cannabis business application. City staff and the Culver City Police Department will review that information and, if approved, applicants will move forward. If more than the maximum number of permits allowed (6 manufacturing, 6 distribution, 3 cultivation, and 4 testing laboratories) qualify, then the City will use a lottery to determine the applicants that will ultimately receive a permit.

Successful applicants will then apply for a BTC, all applicable permits from LA County Department of Public Health, all required City permits, and submit part two of their cannabis business application.

Without a doubt, Culver City will be one of the most competitive jurisdictions in L.A. County. In such a setting, potential operators need to prepare themselves by organizing their business and operational plans as well their communal impact and outreach plans and methods, which will take significant preparation. Because the City plans to release its cannabis permit applications as soon as the middle of next month, would-be operators should start organizing themselves now: it’s going to be an uphill (and expensive and time-consuming) process in the Heart of Screenland.

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Author: Alexa Halloran