City of Fresno – Cannabis Permit Application Window Opening Soon

The City of Fresno is just about to open its cannabis business permit application window. Although the application materials are yet to be released, the City has released a tentative key dates list showing, among other things, the anticipated permitting window dates. The City of Fresno currently believes that it will make applications and application procedures available on its website by October 19, 2020. This date may change because the City is yet to decide on the application fee amounts, however, the City Council meets on October 15, 2020 and will hopefully take up and decide on the matter then. 

Assuming that applications become available on October 19, 2020, the Cannabis Business Permit application window will close on December 4, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Other important dates from the City’s tentative key dates list are shown below: 

  • 10.20.2020 @ 1:00 pm – Zoom orientation for the Cannabis Business Permit application process (pre-registration required)
  • 10.21.2020 @ 1:00 pm – Zoom orientation for the Cannabis Business Permit Social Equity application process (pre-registration required)
  • 11.13.2020 by 4:00 pm – Cannabis Business Permit Social Equity eligibility criteria due.

Permits Available (and Limits by Cannabis Use

The City Council approved Fresno’s Cannabis Retail Business and Commercial Cannabis Business Ordinance in December 2018. The number of permits available varies depending on the specific cannabis use at issue. See below for the breakdown:

  • Cannabis Retail Businesses: Initially limited to a maximum of fourteen (14)
    • The City Council may approve up to seven (7) more cannabis retail business by Council Resolution
  • Cannabis Cultivators, Distributors, and Manufacturer: A maximum of sixteen (16) permits total may be issued for this category. There is no specific number of each type of use that may be allowed as long as the total number of commercial cannabis business permits issued for all three business types does not exceed a total of sixteen (16).
  • Cannabis Testing Labs: No limit

While the numbers above are set, according to the City’s cannabis ordinance, “each year following the City Manager’s initial award of permits, if any, or at any time in the City Manager’s discretion, the City Manager may reassess the number of commercial cannabis business permits which are authorized for issuance.” (Chapter 9, Article 33, Section 9-3306(f)). 

Location Requirement Information for Cannabis Businesses in Fresno

The City has strict location requirements for all cannabis businesses. Location requirements are broken down below based on the type of use. For more detailed information about such requirements, please read the applicable sections of the City’s Cannabis Retail Business and Commercial Cannabis Business Ordinance

Cannabis Retail Location Information

All cannabis retail businesses must be located on property that falls within one of the following zoning districts: 

  • DTN (Downtown Neighborhood), 
  • DTG (Downtown General), 
  • CMS (Commercial Main Street), 
  • CC (Commercial Community), 
  • CR (Commercial Regional), 
  • CG (Commercial General), 
  • CH (Commercial Highway), 
  • NMX (Neighborhood Mixed-Use), 
  • CMX (Corridor/Center Mixed Use), or 
  • RMX (Regional Mixed-Use). 

Additionally, no more than two cannabis retail businesses may be located in any one Council District and all retail businesses must meet the development requirements for such zones and the design and operational requirements listed in the City’s cannabis ordinance. 

Like most California localities, the City of Fresno has also mandated setbacks from certain “sensitive uses”.  Specifically, in Fresno, all buildings in which a cannabis retail business is located must be at least 800 feet from any property containing any of the following: 

  1. Another cannabis retail business, 
  2. A school providing instruction for any grades pre-school through 12 (whether public, private, or charter, including pre-school, transitional kindergarten, and K-12), 
  3. A day care center licensed by the state Department of Social Services that is in existence at the time a complete commercial cannabis business permit application is submitted.
  4. A youth center that is in existence at the time a complete commercial cannabis business permit application is submitted.

Location Information for Non-Retail Cannabis Businesses

The City of Fresno’s cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, and laboratory location restrictions are quite different from the retail restrictions, so it is important to pay special attention to where these businesses may be located. 

Testing laboratories may be located on parcels within the Commercial, Employment, or Downtown Districts.

When it comes to cultivation, distribution, and manufacturing locations, the location requirements get a bit more complicated. According to the City’s cannabis ordinance:

  • There shall be permitted eight (8) cultivators, distributors, or manufacturers located within the Cannabis Innovation Zone, and
  • There shall be permitted eight (8) cultivators, distributors, or manufacturers located inside a Cannabis Innovation Hub or within one-half (1/2) mile of State Route 99 between Shaw Ave. and Clinton Ave., one (1) mile of State Route 99 north of Shaw Ave. or south of Clinton Ave., or within one (1) mile of State Route 180 west of State Route 99, and must be zoned either IL (Light Industrial) or IH (Heavy Industrial), and must meet all of the requirements for development in these zones.

In terms of setbacks, all buildings in which a cultivator, distributor, or manufacturer is located, and all Cannabis Innovation Hub buildings must be at least 1,000 feet from any property boundary containing any of the following:

  1. Any residentially zoned parcel in the city, including any legal non-conforming residential uses as of the date a complete commercial cannabis business permit application is submitted.
  2. A school providing instruction for any grades pre-school through 12 (whether public, private, or charter, including pre-school, transitional kindergarten, and K-12).
  3. A day care center licensed by the state Department of Social Services that is in existence at the time a complete commercial cannabis business permit application is submitted.
  4. A youth center that is in existence at the time a complete commercial cannabis business permit application is submitted.

If you are asking yourself, ‘what in the world are cannabis innovation zones and cannabis innovation hubs?’ see below:

  • “Cannabis Innovation Zone” is defined as “the area bounded by State Route 41, Golden State Blvd., Church Ave., East Ave., and Parallel Ave.”
  • “Cannabis Innovation Hub” is defined as “an area of land which has many cannabis related businesses grouped together which must be no less than three (3) contiguous acres and no more than one hundred (100) contiguous acres. No more than four (4) are permitted within the city. Each individual business would be clearly defined, with a unique entrance and immovable physical barriers between every premises.”

Mapping Tools for Potential Cannabis Businesses in Fresno

The City of Fresno created mapping tools to assist potential operators in finding potential business locations that meet the City’s zoning requirements. Each tool is linked below. 

#1 City of Fresno Cannabis Retail Map (PDF)

City of Fresno Cannabis Retail PDF Map


#2 City of Fresno Commercial Cannabis Map (PDF)

#3 Commercial Cannabis Locator Interactive Map

#4 Retail Cannabis Locator Interactive Map

Overview of Cannabis Business Permits for City of Fresno and City Contact

The City’s cannabis ordinance is detailed and long and therefore, potential operators should review the ordinance before jumping into the permitting process or locking down a location. To contact the City of Fresno’s Office of Cannabis Oversight, use the contact information provided below.

City of Fresno – Office of Cannabis Oversight

Phone: (559) 621-5555
Email: Cannabis.regs@fresno.gov

For more information about the City of Fresno’s impending permitting process contact Rogoway law group via our website or phone (1-844-414-7155) today.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on print
Share on email

More to Explore