California is now proposing a bill that would allow the sale of cannabis at cannabis farmers markets (210). The bill will also establish permits offering cannabis at temporary events licensed by the state. The bill has already gone through the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. The sponsor of this bill, Assemblyman Jim Wood, said that the primary focus of the legislation is to aid licensed cannabis farmers who cultivate no more than 1 acre of cannabis to obtain consumer recognition for their products. They have also done the same artisanal wine, craft beer, and other family-farm businesses in California.
What does it mean?
Having the ability to sell products at a cannabis community farmers market (10) isn’t the only focus of the new bill. It will also require the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) to issue a new license to licensed cultivators who cultivate less than 1 acre of cannabis with a maximum of 12 temporary retail licenses for cultivator events issued to all licensed cultivators for every calendar year. This means that the law will add a new Section 26050.5 to the Business and Professions Code. This section states, “The department shall issue temporary cultivator event retail licenses for cannabis events operating in accordance with this division” and “A licensee who meets all of the following requirements may apply to the department for a temporary cultivator event retail license.”
The second statement means that the applicants should hold a valid cultivation license in the state. The applicants should also hold a valid permit, license, or any other type of authorization issued by the local jurisdiction that permits them to grow cannabis. Finally, the applicants should cultivate less than 1 acre of cannabis that includes all of their licensed premises.
According to the bill, the DCC won’t require applicants to resubmit any information they already provided when they applied for a state cultivation license. The DCC also won’t require applicants to agree to inspections like background checks they have already undergone for the approval of the state cultivation license they’re applying for. The department should also establish an official process to facilitate application submissions pursuant to the subdivision.
The validity of all temporary cultivator event retail licenses would only last for the duration of the cannabis event the DCC issued it for. The department isn’t allowed to issue over 12 licenses to individual licensees each year. Those who hold the license may sell their cannabis products or cannabis at the event for which they applied for the license.
All of the cannabis products or cannabis sold in the events should only contain cannabis grown by the holder of the license. Cannabis products and cannabis that the licensees will sell at the event shall get transported from the licensee’s premises to the venue of the event through a distributor licensee. This is in accordance with Section 26070. Finally, all licensees should comply with all of the requirements imposed on the retailers by the DCC unless stated otherwise.
Good news for small cannabis growers
For a cultivator to qualify for the special event retail license and sell their products at a cannabis farmers market (210), they must first have a license to cultivate cannabis. They can get this license from the local authorities and the Department of Cannabis Control. Also, the cultivator isn’t allowed to grow more than 1 acre of cannabis. This cap includes all of the licenses that the grower holds. The DCC issues licenses for specific events only, like a cannabis community farmers market (10) event that will last for a certain number of days.
Assembly Bill 2691 has the support of the Origins Council and other craft growers groups. The Origins Council represents around 900 California growers in the historic cultivation areas of cannabis in the state. The executive director of the advocacy group, Genine Coleman, said that the legislation would benefit most of the members of the group. According to her, most of those members only grow half an acre or less of cannabis. This is a huge opportunity for the members. The opportunity for small-scale growers to have direct sales and marketing exposure with consumers is very important.
The owner-operator of East Mill Creek Farms, Drew Barber, who also happens to be the co-founder of Uplift Co-op, agrees that the legislation will provide cannabis growers with an opportunity to communicate with the consumers. This would give them the chance to establish connections that could last. According to Barber, the bill could fill in the “missing piece” for the high-end cultivators of cannabis. But the opportunity to establish connections with consumers is a significant asset that should come with regulation. Consumers should know who grows the cannabis they buy.
The policyholder at the Humboldt County Growers Alliance (HCGA), Ross Gordon, who also happens to be the policy chair at the Origins Council, said that AB 2691 will help the industry of cannabis get recognized as a legal agricultural enterprise. According to Gordon, the bill is a huge step forward in terms of giving cannabis farmers the proper recognition. They are also farmers who need access to sales opportunities so they can sustain their livelihoods.
Dealing with concerns
Assembly Bill 2691 will allow cultivators to sell their cannabis products and cannabis at licensed events, like a cannabis farmers market (210) or a cannabis community farmers market (10) throughout California. According to reports, the Assembly Business and Professions Committee passed the legislation on the 26th of April. According to Assemblyman Jim Wood, “This is not about circumventing retailers, but growing the industry overall. My office has always been open to those who may have concerns about this bill and I’m here to listen to their concerns and proposed solutions.”
But the United Cannabis Business Association has opposed this bill because they claim that it violates the adult-use cannabis law of the state. But Genine Coleman, the executive director of Origins Council, has shown her support for the bill. According to Coleman, it’s “critical” for small cultivators to have direct sales and marketing opportunities with their consumers.
The Executive Director of Davis Farmers Market Alliance, Randii MacNear, also has her own opinion. According to MacNear, even if the bill passes, people should remember that farmers markets are a food business and cannabis isn’t a food item. She also said that the Davis City Council would have to make the final decision.