Cannabis Knowledge & Insights

Guide to San Luis Obispo City’s Commercial Cannabis Permit Application

The city of San Luis Obispo, California opened their cannabis application process this year – and application fees are steep. In November, the City Council unanimously approved annual permit fees between $65,000 – $95,000, depending on the type of business you are hoping to open. The application fee for city approval to start a new business will cost about $22,000.

For cannabis entrepreneurs hoping to operate in San Luis Obispo, these costs raise the stakes for getting your application approved. The city is currently accepting applications from January 7, 2019 to January 29, 2019. Here’s what you need to submit.

San Luis Obispo Commercial Cannabis Application

The main document you will need to work on before January 29 is the San Luis Obispo Cannabis Commercial Business Operator Permit Application Form/Checklist. On this form, you will provide information about your business type, applicant ID, and business premises.

This application also asks you to provide the following detail:

  1. Business Operations Plan: “describing how the cannabis cultivation business will operate in accordance with City code, state law, and other applicable regulations. The business plan must include plans for handling cash and transporting cannabis and cannabis products to and from the cultivation site.” Your business plan must include:
    • Community Relations Plan: this plan must name a specific individual in charge of community outreach, as well as your plan to communicate with the neighborhood in which your business is located.
    • State licenses:  provide a copy of your California state licenses (when available).
    • Tax Compliance: provide a current copy of your city business operations tax certificate, state sales tax seller’s permit, and your most recent year’s financial statement and tax returns. Note that for first time applicants, the business operations tax account will be set up in-house after the application has been submitted.
    • Insurance: your certificate of commercial general liability insurance and endorsements and certificates of all other insurance related to the operation of the cultivation business. For more on insurance, check out this guide.
    • Budget: provide a recent annual budget for operations, if available, or an estimated five-year financial projections.
    • Financial Capacity: include information such as bank balances, available loans and other sources of funding.
    • Products and Services: deliver a list/description of the general products and services your business will provide.
  2. Community Benefits: demonstrate your commitment to local hiring and community support.
  3. Education Plan: describe your plan to provide cannabis education and prevention efforts to the community.
  4. Security Plan: give a detailed security plan outlining the measures that will be taken to ensure the safety of persons and property on the business site. Note that your security plan must be prepared by a qualified professional.
  5. Lighting Plan: give a detailed lighting plan showing existing and proposed exterior and interior lights that will provide adequate security lighting for the business site.
  6. Site and Floor Plans: submit a dimensioned site plan of the business site, including all buildings, structures, driveways, parking lots, landscape areas and boundaries. Also provide dimensioned floor plans for each level of each building that makes up the business site, including the entrances, exits, walls and cultivation areas, if applicable. The plans shall also include the following information about the site: current zoning, parking requirements, consistency with development standards for the zone, if new development planned for the site, and any other site development information. Here’s a zoning map for your reference.
  7. Water Efficiency Plan: demonstrate that sufficient water supply exists for the use.
  8. Odor Control Plan: give a detailed plan describing how you will prevent all odors generated from the cultivation, manufacturing and storage of cannabis from escaping from the buildings on the business site, such that the odor cannot be detected by a reasonable person of normal sensitivity outside the buildings.
  9. Hazardous Materials Plan: if you intend to use any hazardous materials in its operations, provide a hazardous materials management plan that complies with all federal, state and local requirements for management of such substances.
  10. Energy Efficiency Plan: show that you have identified the best way, including carbon free power sources to provide reliable and efficient energy solutions for your business.

Applicants must also agree to submit to a background check when submitting their materials. Each application is evaluated against a set of transparent criteria as outlined in these city scoring sheets. At the time of submission, you must also pay a fee as set in the city cannabis fee schedule. The City’s preferred forms of payment for applications are credit card (Visa, Mastercard or AMEX), money order, check, and debit cards.

If you have questions about something specific related to the application, check the San Luis Obispo FAQs page.

Again, these fees are quite high: so make sure you put forth the strongest application possible. Check out some of our resources on how to put together a cannabis application and contact our experts for help meeting the January 29th deadline.