|In recent weeks, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and Mendocino County have worked in partnership to support provisional cultivation licensees’ transition to annual licensure within the County. This partnership has resulted in the streamlining of local cannabis permitting and the revitalization of review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). As a result, provisional cultivation licensees in Mendocino County now face clearer pathways into annual licensure with DCC.
This document is intended to help provisional cultivation licensees in Mendocino County understand how to continue working towards annual state licensure.
- Future CEQA review: Going forward, DCC will serve as lead agency under CEQA for cultivation licenses in Mendocino County. This work will be supported by a contractor, Ascent Environmental.
In particular, DCC and Ascent Environmental are working to prepare a programmatic environmental impact report (EIR) addressing cannabis cultivation in Mendocino County. Once complete, this programmatic EIR will allow for streamlined CEQA review as to specific cultivation sites in Mendocino County, using site-specific addenda. Additionally, this process may result in the identification of specific sites that can satisfy CEQA using other documentation, such as a negative declaration or mitigated negative declaration.
- Existing Appendix G work product: Because DCC (rather than the County) will now serve as lead agency under CEQA for cultivation licenses in Mendocino County, DCC does not anticipate that it will be possible to complete CEQA review, going forward, using only Appendix G.
DCC recognizes that provisional cultivation licensees in Mendocino County have often expended significant effort in connection with the preparation of Appendix G. To prevent wasted effort, wherever possible, DCC intends to use Appendix-G-related work product to assist in the preparation of the appropriate CEQA documents for a site.
- Renewal of existing DCC provisional licenses: Existing provisional licensees in Mendocino County should continue to seek renewal of their provisional licenses, through DCC, at the appropriate time.
On and after July 1, 2023, state law allows the renewal of a provisional license where, among other requirements, “[t]he lead agency for the license has determined that an environmental impact report is required pursuant to Section 21157 of the Public Resources Code and . . . has a contract or contracts with consultants in place for the preparation in place for the preparation of that environmental impact report.” (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 26050.2, subd. (e)(2)(B).) As mentioned, DCC is now serving as lead agency under CEQA for cultivation licenses in Mendocino County. DCC has determined that a programmatic EIR is required, and a contract is in place for the preparation of that programmatic EIR.
Accordingly, if the other requirements for renewal of provisional licenses are satisfied, DCC intends to continue renewing provisional cultivation licensees in Mendocino County on and after July 1, 2023.
- Local authorization from Mendocino County: Finally, DCC reminds provisional cultivation licensees that—as always—the transition to annual state licensure requires them to comply with applicable local permitting requirements.
DCC encourages provisional cultivation licensees to continue working with Mendocino County to ensure they timely comply with the County’s permitting requirements, which the County has recently streamlined. More information: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/departments/cannabis-department.