Frequently Asked Questions – Commercial Cannabis Businesses
Below you will find a list of Frequently Asked Questions related to commercial cannabis operations in the City of Corona.
Is it Marijuana or Cannabis?
Although marijuana is a common slang term used to describe the cannabis plant and its products, the City will be using the technical term “cannabis” moving forward.
What was the Timeline for California’s Legalization of Medicinal and Recreational Cannabis?
- 1996: Voters approved Prop 215 (Compassionate Use Act), authorizing the medicinal use of cannabis, including certain non-commercial uses by individuals.
- 2015: The California legislature approved MCRSA (Medical Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act), in part creating the State’s 3 Cannabis Licensing Agencies (Bureau of Cannabis Control; CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing in the CDFA; and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch in the CDPH).
- 2016: Voters Approved Prop 64 (Adult Use of Marijuana Act), authorizing (with some restrictions) adults 21 & older to grow, possess & use cannabis for non-medicinal purposes.
- 2017: The California legislature approved MAUCRSA (Medicinal & Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act), which in part has now created a single regulatory system for medicinal and adult-use of cannabis.
- 2018: Pursuant to Prop 64, as of January 1, 2018, it is legal to sell, cultivate, manufacture & distribute cannabis through licensed businesses. Business operators must have both state and local (city or county, as applicable) licenses to legally operate.
Are Commercial Cannabis Businesses Currently Allowed to Operate in the City of Corona?
No. Currently, the City of Corona bans all commercial cannabis operations (CMC Chapter 9.19). This ban does not affect certain non-commercial uses by individuals allowed by Prop 215 and related laws.
Why is it claimed sometimes that Cannabis Businesses are already Operating within the City of Corona?
- First, there are pockets of Riverside County land in and around the City of Corona, including the “island” area of Coronita on the west side of the City, the Home Gardens area on the east end of the City, and El Cerrito on the southeast end of the City. Historically, there have been some illegal cannabis businesses operating within the County’s jurisdiction and people have mistakenly believed that these businesses were operating in the City. We should also note that the County has recently changed its ordinances and will now authorize certain cannabis businesses to begin operating within its jurisdiction. Thus, in the near future you will likely see legal cannabis businesses operating in these County areas.
- Second, over the years the City has had some illegal cannabis businesses open within our jurisdiction. While all of those businesses were shut down in fairly short order, they did operate for a short time before the necessary court and other legal actions were taken to shut them down.
- Third, there are many cannabis delivery businesses operating in the area. While for a variety of reasons such businesses have not been the focus of the City’s enforcement efforts, it should also be noted that the state has also recently administratively attempted to require all cities and counties to accept cannabis deliveries within their jurisdictions (see next FAQ for further information).
Why is the City Able to Ban All Commercial Cannabis Operations?
The state laws noted above expressly authorize local cities and counties to ban all or some commercial cannabis operations, if they choose to do so. It should be noted, however, that the state has recently attempted to create a caveat to this local control. That is, the state has administratively attempted to require all cities and counties to accept cannabis deliveries within their jurisdictions, regardless of whether they otherwise ban cannabis businesses. There is litigation currently underway to declare this administrative effort to be in violation of state law, but it remains to be seen whether the City will be forced to allow cannabis deliveries to be made in the City even if the City’s current ban remains in place.
Is the City Currently Considering Whether to Authorize Some Commercial Cannabis Businesses?
Yes. On April 24, 2019, the City Council directed staff to begin the process of authorizing certain commercial cannabis operations and to return in June with additional information. On June 26, 2019, the City Council specifically directed staff to develop the ordinance, regulations and procedures necessary for the regulation of the following commercial cannabis operations in the City’s manufacturing zones (M-1, M-2, M-3 & M-4 on the City’s zoning map):
- Testing Labs
The City is not currently considering authorizing the commercial cultivation of cannabis.
Why did the City Council form a Cannabis Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee?
If the City is going to allow certain commercial cannabis businesses to operate, the City Council’s goal is to develop the best commercial cannabis regulatory model for the City and our community. To this end, the City Council formed the Cannabis Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee, consisting of Mayor Scott and Vice-Mayor Steiner, in order to work more directly and efficiently with staff by providing routine Council direction and feedback as staff develops the proposed ordinance, regulations and procedures necessary for the regulation of commercial cannabis. The Ad-Hoc Committee has the ability to meet more informally and potentially more often if needed. In addition, if needed the Ad-Hoc Committee is able to receive valuable, informal input from the cannabis industry and general public as the research and development process proceeds forward.
What is the Process for Developing the Necessary Ordinance, Regulations and Procedures?
Staff is currently researching and drafting the necessary documents and is meeting routinely with a City Council Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee to receive feedback and direction. Staff will also return if needed for direction from the full City Council. The zoning portion of the necessary ordinance ultimately will be considered by the Planning Commission and the complete ordinance will be considered by the City Council.
All Planning Commission and City Council meetings are noticed and open to the public under applicable state law (Brown Act).
Please monitor the “Upcoming Meeting Notices” section of this Commercial Cannabis Portal for opportunities to participate and provide feedback.
How Long is the Process for Developing the Necessary Ordinance, Regulations and Procedures Expected to Take?
Staff anticipates that this process may take approximately 7 to 10 months (approximately 1st quarter 2020).
What Permits/Approvals are Expected to be Required to Operate a Commercial Cannabis Business in Corona?
Staff anticipates that businesses will need at least the following approvals before being able to build and operate a commercial cannabis business in Corona:
- City Regulatory Permit
- State License
- City Operational Agreement
Of course, all required building permits for interior tenant improvements and other miscellaneous permits will also be needed to construct and occupy any needed buildings and other facilities.
How Long is the City Regulatory Permit Application Process Expected to Take?
Staff anticipates that this process may take approximately 2 to 5 months (approximately 2nd to 3rd quarter 2020).
What Happens After the Business Obtains a City Regulatory Permit?
The business will then be required to obtain a state license, return to the City to obtain a City Operational Agreement, and then proceed through the build-out permitting process. There is no way to know how long this process might take, but it could be as long as 1 to 2 years.
Where Can We Find More Information About State Licensing and Regulations?
As mentioned above, the 3 state licensing agencies are the Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing in the California Department of Food & Agriculture and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch in the California Department of Public Health.
You can follow the links to access their websites: