The City of Stanton in Orange County, California is currently accepting screening applications for various cannabis uses. However, those interested in operating a commercial cannabis business in Stanton should act quickly because the application window closes on October 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm (PST).
The City of Stanton is currently accepting screening applications for the following uses:
- Storefront Retail
- Distribution – Transport Only
- Testing Laboratory
The Stanton City Council has approved the issuance of a maximum of four (4) permits in each of the seven (7) categories listed above. The City has also instituted a scoring process for submitted applications and once all scores are totaled, only the top 4 applications in each category will move forward in the application process. This means that the application process will likely be fairly competitive because the number of permits available is quite small.
Stanton Cannabis Permit Application Process
So, what does an interested party need to do to apply? First things first, they should visit the City’s Commercial Cannabis Business Permit webpage and review the helpful information that is found there including the City’s cannabis ordinance. Once that review is complete, the interested party will want to dive into preparing its screening application. In order to do so, it is important to understand the City’s application process, which contains multiple steps.
Step 1: Submit a Screening Application
All interested operators must submit a screening application by October 29, 2020. The screening application includes the application form and information about the ownership/management team, a proposed business plan, design concept information, a security plan, and experience details. One of the main things to understand at this point is that no applicant needs to have a physical location secured in order to submit an initial screening application.
Although it may sound simple, the screening application will actually be quite detailed since it requires applicants to submit things like a business plan, design concept information, a security plan, and applicant experience information. In order to know what to include in such sections of the application, potential applicants should review the City of Stanton’s Screening Criteria document which shows how each portion of the screening application will be scored and what the City wants to see within each required section.
For example, the business plan that an applicant submits to the City in its screening application will likely be vastly different than a typical business plan. This is because, the City wants each business plan to contain specific information including, but not limited to:
- Information about the applicant’s unique business model;
- Marketing plan information;
- Community engagement information;
- Local non-profit engagement information;
- Local business partnership information;
- Standard operating procedures (multiple different ones (approximately 11) ranging from financial SOPs to environmental, testing, records, and customer education SOPs);
- Training plans;
- Social equity provisions; and
- Product offering information
The City’s Review Criteria document also details what an applicant should submit when it comes to the design concept, security plan, and team experience sections of the application packet.
Keep in mind that when it comes to submitting the application packet), there are fees that needs to be paid (receipt of payment must be included in the application packet) and format requirements that must be followed including, but not limited to the need to submit a cover letter, adhering to a page limit, etc. The City’s Commercial Cannabis Business Application Information Packet details the technical requirements of the submission and how it should be organized.
As with any competitive application process, it is important to remember that “just getting by” or “merely meeting the ordinance requirements” may not be enough for an application to receive one of the top 4 scores in any given category. Therefore, going above and beyond is important. However, it is also imperative that applicants only promise to do things that can actually be achieved. This is why planning out your application is so incredibly important.
Step 2: Screening Evaluation
Once the application window has closed, each application will be reviewed and scored by the City’s Application Evaluation Committee using the review criteria linked above. The scores will be totaled and the top four (4) applications in each permit category will be eligible to move onto the next steps in the application process.
Step 3: Commercial Cannabis Business Permit Application
During this step of the application process, each eligible applicant will submit all information about its project including, but not limited to, (1) business owner details, (2) the proposed premises location, (3) proposed hours of operation, (4) intended state license type, (5) how the applicant will comply with the City’s cannabis ordinance and (6) a detailed security plan.
Step 4: Cannabis Permit Application Review
Here, all applicant submittals will be reviewed. The City will review everything including background investigations, initial screening rankings, and any and all ground for denial. Assuming no ground for denial are found, the application will move onto step five (5) in the application process.
Step 5: Secure a Physical Location
This is when an applicant will be required to submit the chosen physical location of the proposed business to the City and obtain all necessary zoning clearances and/or planning permits for the proposed use(s).
Step 6: Obtain a Business License
During this step, all applicants that are still eligible will need to apply for and obtain a business license from the City of Stanton. Applicants will have up to twelve (12) months to secure a business license.
Step 7: Obtain Building Permits
Eligible applicants will need to apply for and obtain any necessary building and safety permits needed to make improvements to the property.
Step 8: Obtain State Cannabis License
Prior to obtaining an occupancy permit and starting operations, applicants will be required to apply for and obtain the state cannabis license necessary to operate their cannabis business.
Permitting Fees & Proof of Payment
Once an applicant is ready to submit its screening application (in Step 1), they should STOP and do the following things: (1) pay the necessary application fees and (2) obtain proof of payment from the City to include in the application packet. See below for more information on fees and submittal requirements.
As noted above, proof of payment in the form of a receipt from the City of Stanton must be included with all screening application submittals. Applicants must pay two fees:
- The nonrefundable fee in the amount of $2,600 per application
- The refundable deposit of $100,000 per application. This deposit will be returned following completion of the review process (approved or denied).
Payment must be in the form of a check. No cash or online/digital payments will be accepted. Payments may be made in person Monday-Thursday between the hours of 8:00 am – Noon and 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.
Payments may also be mailed to the City for processing; however, the City will take no responsibility for checks that are not received on time, so it is likely better to have someone hand delivery the fees, if possible and safe.
Mailed checks can be sent to:
City of Stanton Attn: Cannabis Screening Application Payment c/o Community and Economic Development Department
7800 Katella Avenue
Stanton, CA 90680-3162
Mailed checks must include a cover letter providing an email address where a copy of the receipt can be sent and a contact name and number in case any issues arise.
How to Submit Screening Application
All materials must be submitted electronically on www.wetransfer.com. Detailed submittal instructions can be found in the City’s Application Information Packet that was linked above.
If you would like to discuss the City of Stanton’s cannabis permit application process or start working on application materials, give the cannabis permitting attorneys at Rogoway Law Group a call today.