Updated: Nov 26, 2018
Big opportunity is brewing for cannabis entrepreneurs in Riverside County, CA.
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors decided in October to approve licenses for cannabis operations in unincorporated areas of the county.
But you’ll need an airtight application and plenty of patience if you want to win one of the licenses. Only a limited number are available, so the process will be merit-based for certain license types.
Let’s dig into the details – and you can also join our Riverside newsletter to keep up with changes to the process as soon as we know about them.
Highroad Riverside cannabis license billboard
Types of cannabis licenses
In the highly regulated cannabis market, entrepreneurs must apply for licenses specific to the types of work their business will do.
In Riverside County, there will be an unlimited number of licenses approved for the following types of cannabis businesses:
Wholesale cannabis nurseries
In an exciting twist, the Board will grant only a limited number of the following types of licenses:
Retail – 19 licenses
Cultivation – 50 licenses
These limits translate to intense competition. Scarcity in an environment with high demand means money for everyone involved. These licenses will be worth many, many times more than the investment required to win them.
Competitive cannabis licensing process for Riverside County
The County will accept applications for distribution, manufacturing, testing and nursery licenses as early as December 26, 2019.
But the process for retail and cultivation licenses will be based on merit – and extremely competitive.
Applying for a cannabis license is way more complicated than simply filling out a form.
At a minimum, you must have done your strategic planning and lined up resources with documentation to back everything up.
The Board of Supervisors will look at your funding, your property, your business plan, and unofficially, your tenacity to adhere to their strict timeline.
Timeline for retail and cultivation license application process
Here is what we know so far based on the Board of Supervisors meeting in October. This timeline is subject to change and the Board will clarify the steps over the coming weeks.
January 15th (anticipated) – deadline to pre-register for the retail and cultivation application process; pre-registration begins January 1, 2019.
Interested parties meeting sometime between January 21 and 29, 2019 – the County will post notice and agenda of meetings at least 72 hours beforehand.
Beginning 45 days after Step 2, there will be a 15-day submission window. If you submit your application early, they will allow for a completeness check and will allow you to submit anything missing. The County will return 50% of the application fee if they find your application is incomplete.
Scoring begins. Your application must have a score of 80% or more and your team must pass background checks. If you fail but pass background checks and get that 80% or higher score, you can enter a waiting list that will give you priority in next year’s application process.
Partner with experts who have won merit-based cannabis license applications before
More important than anything else is understanding how traditional business acumen and regulation in the cannabis industry play off each other.
A consultant is worth the investment in merit-based application processes. Highroad offers help with every step in the application process, and we have the track record to back it up – we have a 100% cannabis license win rate, based on 45 licenses in four states over the last five years.
In fact, Highroad offers a Test Drive. During an assessment period, we’ll review your readiness, give you recommendations for getting ready, and if we both agree you’re ready, we’ll offer to take your application across the finish line.
And once you’re up and running with your new cannabis license in unincorporated Riverside County, we can keep your business healthy through ongoing audits and end-to-end consulting services that will help you meet your business goals.
Your next steps
So what can you do to get started and set yourself up to win one of these licenses?
Give Highroad a call and take the Test Drive.
Complete your strategic planning exercises immediately.
Assemble a team that will pass background checks.
Find and secure funding.
Get property for your project if you haven’t already.
Look at merit-based application winners in other competitive jurisdictions and research how to make your application stand out.
Join our Riverside County newsletter and follow our social media for updates to the process as soon as we know about them.