State Assembly Passes Bill to License Cottage Growers

(Sacramento, CA) – Today, the California State Assembly passed AB 2516, a bill by Assembly member Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) to refine the licensing structure established last year by the landmark Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). The bill passed by a vote of 55-5.

“Many cannabis farmers across California grow only a handful of plants on relatively small plots of land,” explained Assemblymember Wood. “These small farmers often rely on cannabis to supplement their income, or simply as one product in a larger agricultural portfolio. By creating a specialty cottage license this legislation seeks to ensure that the California Department of Food and Agriculture will develop regulations and requirements with the special needs of this unique group of cultivators in mind.”

AB 2516 would create a Type 1C, or “specialty cottage,” license. This license would be issued by the CDFA, for cultivation of 2,500 square feet or less of total canopy size for outdoor or greenhouse cultivation, and 500 square feet or less of total canopy size for indoor cultivation.

Casey O’Neill, a farmer in Northern Mendocino, says that cannabis is the only way his family is able to make ends meet. “Cannabis is an integral part of the crop portfolio for many small farms and could be for many more.  This bill offers the potential for micro-scale cultivators and for diversified farm operations to participate in the legal cannabis marketplace.  Small farms often struggle to make ends meet and we have a real opportunity to help farms like mine thrive. This bill is an important step in an important regulatory conversation and we are grateful to the author and the Legislature for moving it forward.” 

The bill is sponsored by the California Growers Association. Executive Director Hezekiah Allen says this addresses the highest priority concern they heard from several hundred members statewide.

“With so much media attention lately on big ticket priorities like adult use, track and trace and distribution, it is great to keep the conversation focused on protecting small growers.”

The bill has attracted support from Americans for Safe Access and the Consortium Management Group. In addition to these organizations, the California Growers Association has received support from more than 800 growers, patients and supporters. There is no opposition on file. 

“This really is a grassroots effort. It’s really exciting to be working on this right now. This legislation reflects a groundswell of Californians that want to keep cannabis cottage — not corporate,” Allen said. He went on to explain that a license is just the starting point. “Without a license, the state’s smallest growers are at a real risk of being left out. Small growers are already at a disadvantage because they can’t afford lobbyists or PR firms. This new license will ensure that cottage growers have a seat at the table.”

In his first term, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) has established himself as a leader in cannabis policy. Wood has demonstrated a focus on ensuring cultivation regulations are small business friendly while providing robust protections for natural resources and watersheds.

AB 2516 will now be referred to policy committee in the state Senate.