On Friday the California Growers Association announced a new advocacy program to protect its most vulnerable members – micro, subsistence and cottage cultivators. This announcement was marked by the launch of an online petition which gathered support from more than 238 people by mid-afternoon Monday. 

Casey O’Neill, Board Chair for California Growers Association signed the petition. “Cottage cultivators are a cherished part of our heritage in California,” O’Neill said. “But the legacy of cottage and subsistence cultivation is now inadvertently at risk. Folks in my community have been left without a license. If they are priced out of the marketplace, or if they can’t access markets many people will go out of business.”

The state’s smallest farmers were overlooked in landmark state legislation signed by Gov. Brown in October, explained Hezekiah Allen, Cal Growers Executive Director. “The smallest license created last year is limited at 50 plants or 5,000 square feet. Cottage growers in the state often grow as few as 25 plants or less. And 5,000 square feet of indoor is pretty big to a fixed income patient supplementing their income with a few hundred square feet. What we have heard loud and clear from growers throughout the state is that California needs to carefully regulate cottage cultivation and ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate. This starts with a license specifically for cottage growers." 

Cal Growers will work with state authorities, local officials and law enforcement to create a special licensing category for cottage cultivators, allowing them to become compliant under new state regulations passed last year.

“As we implement the landmark, bipartisan legislation signed by Gov. Brown in October of 2015, we can’t forget about the most vulnerable people in our industry,” Allen said. “Under the new legislation, there’s no place for the subsistence farmer. That’s where our industry came from. We’re not going to forget the little guy.”

Cal Growers is working with lawmakers to create a unique license category for cottage cultivators, with the lowest licensing fees.  

Under the proposal, micro farms will be limited to:

  • 2,500 square feet or less outdoor or mixed light.
  • 500 square feet indoor.

Cal Growers is also seeking provisions to ensure fees remain low and authorize licensed cultivators to form cooperatives. “It’s early in the year. Things will could change a lot. I think everyone in Sacramento is still figuring out what this new era of cannabis policy will look like,” explained Allen.