Frequently Asked Questions

Licensing FAQs

When and where can I apply for a license?

The Bureau is aiming to provide a user-friendly online application process shortly after our Medicinal and Adult-Use regulations have been drafted, which is expected to take place later this fall.

What type of license will I need to apply for?

The different licensing types include cultivation, manufacturing, testing laboratory, retailer, distributor and microbusiness. The subcategories for each type of license can be found in SB 94. Licenses will be designated as either “M” (medical) or “A” (adult-use), except for testing laboratories which will be able to test both medical and adult-use cannabis products. The requirements for “M” and “A” licenses are the same unless otherwise specified.

Who is responsible for distributing each type of license?

A: CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, operating under the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is responsible for distributing licenses to cultivators.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control, operating under the California Department of Consumer Affairs, will distribute licenses to retailers, distributors, testing labs and microbusinesses.

The Office of Manufactured Cannabis Safety, operating under the California Department of Public Health, is responsible for distributing licenses to manufacturers.

How many licenses can I hold at once?

There are currently no restrictions to how many licenses an individual can possess. However, this may change when draft regulations are released. Local cities and counties may also limit the number of licenses that can be acquired.

How long will my license be valid for?

A license issued by the state will be valid for 12 months and will need to be renewed annually.

How much will licensing fees cost?

Licensing fees are still in the process of being decided upon. This information will be released, along with the newly-proposed regulations, later this fall.

Which materials will I need to provide to the state on my licensing application?

The Bureau is currently working on drafting proposed regulations to clarify what will need to be provided at the time of applying for a license. In preparing to apply for a state license, we recommend reading the MAUCRSA, which establishes the regulatory structure and licensing requirements and restrictions. Subscribing to our email alerts at will provide you with the latest information on policies and draft regulations. We also recommend individuals make sure their proposed business will be in compliance with all local laws and regulations. Contact your local city or county for more information about what commercial cannabis activities are allowed in your area and the requirements for those activities.

Do I need to get a state license or local city/county license first?

It is advisable to get a local city or county license first. Applicants for state commercial cannabis licenses must be in compliance with all local regulations and ordinances. In addition, applicants for temporary state commercial cannabis licenses must specifically hold a license, permit, or authorization from their local city or county when applying for a temporary state license.

Can I apply for a license through my city/county or do I need to apply for a state-issued license too?

A state-issued license is required in complying with the proper state regulatory agencies.

My city/county has banned commercial cannabis activities, can I still apply for a state license?

The Bureau will not issue the respective state licenses to individuals or commercial operations inside a city or county which has banned the cultivation, manufacturing or dispensing of cannabis or cannabis-related products.

Will there be a limit on the number of commercial cannabis licenses that the Bureau issues?

The Bureau currently has no plans to limit the number of commercial cannabis licenses it will issue. However, local cities and counties may limit the number of businesses they permit to operate within their jurisdiction. In addition, when deciding whether to issue or deny a retail or microbusiness license, the bureau is required to consider whether the issuance of the license would result in “excessive concentration” pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 26051(c).

What is the difference between a temporary license and a regular (nontemporary) license?

Beginning on January 1, 2018, the Bureau will issue temporary licenses to make sure commercial cannabis businesses operating under a valid local permit, license or other authorization can continue to do business while the Bureau processes regular (nontemporary) license applications. A temporary license will be valid for 120 days. Temporary licensees may apply for a 90-day extension to their temporary license if they have submitted a complete application for a regular license to the Bureau.

Will I be able to access a list of licensed commercial cannabis businesses once the bureau begins issuing licenses?

Yes, that will eventually be an option, though likely not on day one, as businesses will be applying for and receiving licenses to operate. As more and more people enter the regulated market, our online database will become more robust.

Will the bureau be providing educational workshops to help industry members understand the new regulatory structure?

The Bureau will be offering several workshops as a chance to interact with the public, receive comments and educate licensing applicants on our future draft regulations. More information on the dates and locations of these upcoming workshops can be found on our website at, or accessed on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or on California’s Cannabis Web Portal at

General FAQs

With the passage of the initiative, can any adult 21 and over can walk into a dispensary after November 9, 2016 and purchase cannabis?

No. Dispensaries will only be licensed to sell medical cannabis, and will be prohibited from selling non-medical cannabis to individuals without a doctor’s recommendation. The initiative calls for licensing authorities to begin accepting applications and issuing licenses in January 2018, at which point any adult 21 and over may purchase non-medical cannabis. The Bureau of Cannabis Control is responsible for licensing dispensaries under the initiative.

Will the State be able to meet the January 1, 2018 licensing deadline?

The agencies involved are taking appropriate action to meet the deadlines and requirements imposed by the initiative. The basic priorities under the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) regarding public and environmental safety remain the same under the initiative.

Can people expect to have their criminal records changed?

The purpose and intent of this section of the initiative indicates that it seeks to “[a]uthorize courts to resentence persons who are currently serving a sentence for offenses for which the penalty is reduced by the act, so long as the person does not pose a risk to public safety, and to redesignate or dismiss such offenses from the criminal records of persons who have completed their sentences as set forth in this act.”

Health and Safety Code section 11361.8. (a) states that “[a] person currently serving a sentence for a conviction, whether by trial or by open or negotiated plea, who would not have been guilty of an offense, or who would have been guilty of a lesser offense under the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act had that act been in effect at the time of the offense may petition for a recall or dismissal of sentence before the trial court that entered the judgment of conviction in his or her case to request resentencing or dismissal in accordance with Business and Professions Code sections 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11362.1, 11362.2, 11362.3, and 11362.4 as those sections have been amended or added by that act.”

What about the fact that California will be allowing and regulating something that is still illegal under federal law?

Although the federal government issued a memorandum in 2013 that outlined the Obama Administration’s expectations for state and local governments that enact cannabis related laws, we cannot predict whether or how that guidance might change in the future.

How will the track and trace program work for nonmedical cannabis?

The California Department of Food and Agriculture will establish the track-and-trace system for medical cannabis and nonmedical cannabis. Track-and-trace will operate similar to the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) requirements. This means the movement of cannabis and cannabis products will be documented throughout the supply chain from cultivation to sale. The system will ensure that if public safety concerns arise, the source can be quickly identified. Additionally, track-and-trace will be a tool to prevent product grown outside the legal framework from entering the regulated market and regulated product from being diverted to the black market.

Will people be able to smoke nonmedical cannabis anywhere?

No. The initiative prohibits consumption of cannabis in a public place unlicensed for such use, including near K-12 schools, on sidewalks, and other areas where children are present.

Will my medical cultivation license work for nonmedical grows?

No. Medical cultivation licenses are not valid for producing nonmedical product. However, a licensed medical cultivator could also obtain a nonmedical cultivation license under Business and Professions Code section 26053, provided the site meets all the requirements for both the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) and the initiative. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is responsible for licensing cultivators under the initiative.

Will there be differences on how to grow cannabis for medical versus nonmedical?

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is responsible for licensing cultivators under the initiative. Cultivation requirements will generally remain the same for growing cannabis both for medical or nonmedical use. Cannabis products offered for sale will need to be clearly differentiated as medical or nonmedical.

Will the Medical Marijuana Card Program go away?

Although Proposition 64 amends some statutory provisions governing the Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) program, it does not abolish it. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will continue to print identification cards and maintain a registry database for verification of qualified patients and their primary caregivers.

Who regulates edibles? (Not considered a food or a drug, per H&S code)

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is responsible for regulating the manufacturers of cannabis-infused edibles for both medical and nonmedical use.

How will nonmedical cannabis be kept away from kids?

The initiative includes provisions designed to help keep cannabis away from children, including but not limited to, marketing restrictions, school buffer zones, child-resistant packaging, and warning labels.

What steps will the licensing authorities take to implement Proposition 64?

The licensing authorities are closely analyzing the initiative as passed to determine how best to regulate both medical and nonmedical use in an expeditious and efficient manner. Proposition 64 requires implementation through California’s regulatory process. The licensing authorities intend to take a similar approach with the initiative by involving stakeholders and the public in the regulatory process.

How will public safety be protected?

Just as with the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), the licensing authorities will develop regulations for nonmedical use with public safety as a priority. The regulatory program will include licensing requirements and an enforcement component.

How will the regulations for nonmedical use differ from medical cannabis ones?

All related regulations will be based on the language of that initiative. At the same time, the basic priorities regarding public safety, safe products, and environmental safety remain the same.

What happens to license fees?

Licensing fees will be deposited in each licensing authority’s account in the Marijuana Control Fund. Upon appropriation by the Legislature, each licensing authority will use the fees it has collected to perform the licensing authority’s duties under the act.

Medical FAQ’s

How will the Bureau develop regulations?

The Bureau will develop regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. It will also conduct research, and convene stakeholders, members of the public, and other state agencies to develop the regulations necessary to successfully implement a medical cannabis regulatory structure in California.

How can I receive updates regarding regulation development?

The Bureau website will contain information regarding the regulatory process. Information will be sent out to email-alert subscribers: (subscribe at or you may request information regarding the Bureau’s proposed regulations be sent to you by mail.

What is the timeline for the development of regulations?

The Bureau anticipates that regulations will be developed by January 1, 2018.

I am a qualified medical cannabis patient or primary caregiver. Will I need a license under the new system?

No. A qualified patient who cultivates, possesses, processes, or transports medical marijuana exclusively for his or her personal medical use is not required to get a license. Primary caregivers who provide care to five or fewer medical cannabis patients are also not required to be licensed if they are compliant with the Act.

How will medical cannabis businesses be licensed under the Act?

The Act establishes a dual licensing system between local cities and counties and the State. Businesses will be required to obtain a city, county, or city and county license, permit, or other authorization, before a business can apply for a state license.

What license types will be available in California?

The Act requires licenses for the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, transportation, laboratory testing, and sale of medical cannabis. The Department of Food and Agriculture is responsible for issuing cultivation licenses; the Department of Public Health is responsible for issuing manufacturing licenses; and the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation within the Department of Consumer Affairs is responsible for issuing distribution, transportation, laboratory testing, and dispensary (sale) licenses.

How can I apply for a license from the Bureau?

The Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation is not issuing state licenses at this time. The Bureau recommends interested parties contact their local government regarding the rules and requirements applicable to medical cannabis activities in that city or county.

How long will licenses be active before they must be renewed?

The Act requires licenses to be renewed annually.

If I want to apply for a medical cannabis license issued by the Bureau, what should I do now?

Be patient. The Bureau is still in the early stages of development and won’t be accepting applications for licenses until 2018.

Will priority be given to certain businesses for the issuance of state licenses?

In issuing licenses, the Bureau will prioritize any entity that can demonstrate to the Bureau’s satisfaction that the entity was in operation and in good standing with the local jurisdiction by January 1, 2016, as required by the Act.

If I have a criminal background will I be denied approval for a license?

According to the Act, the Bureau may deny a license to an applicant who has been convicted of an offense that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the application is made.

What if my city/county prohibits all or certain medical cannabis businesses?

If a local jurisdiction bans all or a specific form of medical cannabis business, then, under the Act, a business is not allowed to operate in that jurisdiction.

Can I hold an alcoholic beverage license and a medical cannabis license?

A person who holds an alcoholic beverage retail license may not hold a medical cannabis license.