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Cannabis Cultivation Permitting

cannabis near lake

Cannabis cultivators applying for an link opens in new windowAnnual License from the link opens in new windowCalifornia Department of Food and Agriculture must have a Lake and Streambed Alteration (LSA) Agreement or written verification that one is not needed. CDFW requires an LSA Agreement when a project activity may substantially adversely affect fish and wildlife resources. LSA Agreements provide actions to avoid and minimize adverse impacts and provide protections to California’s fish and wildlife resources.

To apply for an LSA Agreement or verification that an Agreement is not required, notify CDFW of your cannabis cultivation activities.

Other permits and environmental review may be necessary:


If you believe your cannabis cultivation project will not substantially modify any river, stream, or lake, you may complete the online self-certification. CDFW will review the information you submit and determine whether you need to submit a notification.

If you do not need to submit a notification, CDFW will provide you with written verification that a Lake or Streambed Alteration (LSA) Agreement is not required.

Please note that if any part of your cultivation is located outdoors, you are ineligible for self-certification.

What information do I need before I begin?

Before beginning self-certification, applicants need the following information:

Property Location

Provide a description of the property location including:

  • Property address, city, and county;
  • Assessor Parcel Number(s); and
  • Geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude).

Project Description

Provide a detailed description of all project activities. Describe in detail the following information: 

  • All phases of construction;
  • Any structures that will be constructed, maintained, operated, or modified in or near any stream, river, or lake;
  • Any channel clearing activities;
  • Specific volume and dimensions of all materials and features that will be used, installed, and/or removed from any stream, river, or lake;
  • If water will be diverted or drafted, specify the point of diversion, purpose, and where it will be used; and
  • Equipment to be used during project activities.

Water Source

Identify all water sources for the cannabis cultivation site(s) and provide supporting documentation for those sources.

  • Provide the latitude and longitude for each diversion, spring, reservoir, or well used for the project.
  • If using a well, include a Well Completion Report or similar information.
  • If using a public water system, provide the most recent copy of water services bill.
  • If using water hauling, provide the name of the water hauler.

Project Maps and Photographs

Provide detailed maps depicting the project and supporting photographs.

  • Include a north arrow and map scale in all maps.
  • Mark the location of the project(s) on the map(s) with reference to the nearest city or town. 
  • Mark the location of any spring or well being used in comparison to the project.
  • Provide driving directions from a major highway or road.
  • Include any photographs or other material that may assist CDFW in determining impacts to a river, stream, or lake.

link opens in new windowTips for Creating a Quality Map (PDF)

How long is the process?

FASTEST: CDFW evaluates the self-certification and determines if your project qualifies for written verification an LSA Agreement is not necessary (commonly referred to as a waiver).

How much does it cost?

There is no fee for self-certification.

How do I begin?

Applicants must link opens in new windowRegister online prior to starting the self-certification process.

Read the link opens in new windowEPIMS user guide (PDF).

Some cannabis cultivation projects may meet the criteria for a General Agreement. If your project qualifies, the General Agreement provides a streamlined online application process.

The General Agreement is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because it is a link opens in new windowministerial permit.

The General Agreement is short-term. It expires 5 years after the effective date.

Read the link opens in new windowGeneral Agreement (PDF).

What projects qualify for the General Agreement?

Your project must meet specific requirements to qualify for the General Agreement.

  • The project needs to involve a stream crossing or water diversion specific to cannabis cultivation.
  • The project must meet the administrative measures, measures to protect fish and wildlife, and reporting requirements highlighted in the General Agreement, sections h-k.
  • The project cannot be on or in a finfish bearing stream or lake.
  • The project cannot result in take of a listed or fully protected species.
  • The project cannot be the subject of a complaint by a city attorney, District Attorney, the Attorney General, or an order by a court.

If your project meets these criteria, read the link opens in new windowGeneral Agreement (PDF) for additional Design Criteria by project type, and for information on measures and requirements.

If your project is not eligible for the General Agreement, you may apply for a Standard Lake or Streambed (LSA) Agreement.

What information do I need before I begin?

To apply for the General Agreement, you will need to provide the following information and certify that you are in possession of the Biological Resources Assessment, Property Diagram, and, where applicable, the Design Plan.

How much does it cost?

Fees are due at the time you submit your online notification. Project costs determine the fees.

General Agreement Fee

  • $577.25 if the project costs less than $5,000.
  • $724.50 if the project costs from $5,000 to less than $10,000.
  • $1,446.00 if the project costs from $10,000 to less than $25,000.
  • $2,170.50 if the project costs from $25,000 to less than $100,000.
  • $3,185.25 if the project costs from $100,000 to less than $200,000.
  • $4,320.25 if the project costs from $200,000 to less than $350,000.
  • $5,145.75 if the project costs $350,000 or more.

Learn more about how to link opens in new windowcalculate the correct fee (PDF). The fee for the General Agreement is the same as the fee for a Standard Agreement with a term of five years or less.

Remediation

If the General Agreement includes remediation for a cannabis cultivation site, the applicant must submit the remediation fee below. The fee is in addition to the General Agreement fees.

Remediation Fee, If Applicable

  • $3,087.50 if the total remediation area is less than or equal to 1,000 square feet.
  • $5,145.75 if the total remediation area is greater than 1,000 square feet.

How long is the process?

FAST - The General Agreement process is streamlined. Once CDFW determines that a General Agreement is appropriate for your project, CDFW will authorize your project under the General Agreement.

How do I begin?

To apply for the General Agreement, you must notify CDFW of your project online. link opens in new windowRegister online to begin your application.

Read the link opens in new windowEPIMS user guide (PDF).

For project and site specific questions, contact the link opens in new windowCDFW Region (PDF) where the project is located.

Cannabis cultivation projects that are not eligible for the General Agreement may apply for a Standard Lake or Streambed (LSA) Agreement. Standard Agreements may be short term or long term. A Standard Agreement is specific and unique for each project. They include measures to protect fish and wildlife resources.

What information do I need before I begin?

The link opens in new windowLSA Instructions and Process (PDF) includes detailed information requirements.

Property Location

Applicants will provide location information:

  • Property address, city, and county;
  • Name of the river, stream, or lake, as well as tributary near project;
  • Assessor Parcel Number(s); and
  • Latitude and longitude.

Project Description

Provide a detailed description of all project activities: 

  • Seasonal work period and number of work days expected to complete the project activities;
  • A detailed step-by-step description of all construction activities;
  • Any structures that will be constructed, maintained, operated, or modified in or near any stream, river, or lake;
  • Any channel clearing activities;
  • Specific volume and dimensions of all materials and features that will be used, installed, and/or removed from any stream, river, or lake;
  • If water will be diverted or drafted, specify the point of diversion, purpose, and place of use; and
  • Equipment used for construction.

Water Source

Identify and provide latitude and longitude for all water associated with cannabis cultivation.

  • If using a well, Well Completion Report or similar information.
  • If using a public water system, provide a copy of the most recent water services bill.
  • If using water hauling, provide the name of the water hauler.

Project Impacts

Describe any foreseeable impacts (permanent or temporary) that the project may cause. Include potential impacts on:

  • The flow, bed, channel, and bank of the river, stream, or lake;
  • Vegetation (specify the type and amount of vegetation); and
  • Special status species.

Measures to Protect Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Resources

Describe all resource protection measures, such as:

  • Erosion control;
  • Measures to avoid or minimize impacts to fish, wildlife, and plant resources; and
  • Mitigation or compensation measures.

Project Maps and Photographs

  • Provide detailed maps.
  • Include a north arrow and map scale in all maps.
  • Mark the location of the project on the map(s) with reference to the nearest city or town.
  • Mark the location of any spring or well being used in comparison to the project.
  • Provide driving directions from a major highway or road
  • Include any photographs or other material that may assist CDFW in determining impacts to a river, stream, or lake

link opens in new windowTips for Creating a Quality Map (PDF)

Additional Information

Depending on the project type, you may need additional information:

  • Biological Review;
  • Hydrological Review;
  • Any permits received by local, state, or federal agencies related to the project; and
  • Information regarding water diversions, including wells.

How long is the process?

TAKES A LITTLE TIME: If you are requesting a short-term Standard Agreement (5 years or less), CDFW has up to 30 calendar days to determine if the notification is complete. Once CDFW determines the notification is complete, CDFW has up to 60 calendar days to issue a draft Standard Agreement or a letter stating an agreement is not needed. These timelines do not apply to long-term Standard Agreement requests (greater than 5 years).

CDFW works with individuals to develop a site- and project- specific Standard Agreement. CDFW may need to conduct a site visit.

CDFW must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before issuing a Standard Agreement.

Avoid Delays: Submit a complete notification with all of the requested information and a detailed project description. CDFW will ask for additional information if the notification is incomplete. Learn more about the link opens in new window10 common causes for delays (PDF).

Learn more about Standard Agreements.

How much does it cost?

The fee is based on the project cost and term of the agreement requested (short-term or long-term).

Fee for a Short-Term Standard Agreement: 

  • $577.25 if the project costs less than $5,000. 
  • $724.50 if the project costs from $5,000 to less than $10,000. 
  • $1,446.00 if the project costs from $10,000 to less than $25,000. 
  • $2,170.50 if the project costs from $25,000 to less than $100,000. 
  • $3,185.25 if the project costs from $100,000 to less than $200,000. 
  • $4,320.25 if the project costs from $200,000 to less than $350,000. 
  • $5,145.75 if the project costs $350,000 or more. 

Fee for a Long-Term Standard Agreement:

$6,946.75 base fee, plus: 

  • $577.25 if the project costs less than $5,000. 
  • $724.50 if the project costs from $5,000 to less than $10,000. 
  • $1,446.00 if the project costs from $10,000 to less than $25,000. 
  • $2,170.50 if the project costs from $25,000 to less than $100,000. 
  • $3,185.25 if the project costs from $100,000 to less than $200,000. 
  • $4,320.25 if the project costs from $200,000 to less than $350,000. 
  • $6,512.25 if the project costs from $350,000 to less than $500,000. 
  • $11,576.75 if the project costs $500,000 or more.

For more information on how to calculate the correct fee, see the link opens in new windowLSA Fee Schedule (PDF).

How do I begin?

To apply for a short-term Standard Agreement, you may notify CDFW of your project using the link opens in new windowonline process.

Read the EPIMS online user guide (PDF) prior to submitting your notification online.

Other LSA Agreement Types

Some cannabis cultivation projects may qualify for a less common LSA agreement type.

California Endangered Species Act (CESA) Permits

If cannabis cultivation activities may result in the take of a threatened, endangered, or candidate species, a separate California Endangered Species Act (CESA) permit may be required.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) applies to all discretionary projects to be conducted or approved by a California public agency, including LSA Agreements. Before issuing an LSA Agreement, CDFW must comply with CEQA. However, CEQA does not apply to the General Agreement.

Other Fish & Wildlife Laws

You and any person acting on your behalf are responsible for complying with all applicable local, state, and federal laws that apply to each Authorized Activity. This includes, but is not limited to, the following sections of Fish and Game Code:

  • Rare native plants (section link opens in new window1908)
  • Fully protected species (sections link opens in new window3511link opens in new window4700link opens in new window5050, and link opens in new window5515)
  • Migratory nongame birds (section link opens in new window3513)
  • Bird nests and eggs (section link opens in new window3503)
  • Birds of prey (section link opens in new window3503.5)
  • Water pollution (section link opens in new window5650)
  • Refuse disposal into water (section link opens in new window5652)
  • Fish passage (section link opens in new window5901)
  • Sufficient water for fish (section link opens in new window5937)
  • Obstruction of a stream (section link opens in new window5948)
  • For projects on private timberlands, requirements set forth in the Forest Practice Act (link opens in new windowPub. Resources Code, § 4511 et seq.)

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