Frequently Asked Questions
When and where can I apply for a license?
California’s three licensing authorities are currently accepting applications for commercial cannabis! Information on where to apply can be found on the licensing tab.
What type of license will I need to apply for?
The different licensing types include cultivation, manufacturing, testing laboratory, retailer, distributor, microbusiness, and cannabis events organizer. 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?
CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, a division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), is responsible for licensing cultivators of medicinal and adult-use (recreational) cannabis and implementing a track-and-trace system to record the movement of cannabis through the distribution chain.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) is the lead agency in regulating commercial cannabis licenses for medical and adult-use cannabis in California. The Bureau is responsible for licensing retailers, distributors, testing labs, microbusinesses, and temporary cannabis events.
The Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch, a division of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), is responsible for regulating and licensing the manufacturers of cannabis-infused edibles for both medical and non-medical use.
How much will application/license fees cost?
Application/License fees are available in each licensing authority’s emergency regulations:
How long will my license be valid for?
A temporary license is valid for 120 days and may be extended for 90 days after an applicant submits a complete application for an annual license by the end of the 120-day period.
An annual license issued by the state will be valid for 12 months and will need to be renewed yearly
What is a temporary 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 an annual license to the Bureau.
Which materials will I need to provide to the state on my licensing application?
The licensing application guidelines are listed in each licensing authority’s proposed emergency regulations. In preparing to apply for a state license, the three licensing authorities have provided fact sheets on what the anticipated annual requirements will be when preparing to apply for a license:
- Bureau of Cannabis Control – Anticipated Annual License Application Requirements
- CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing – Preparing for a State Cannabis Cultivation License
- Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch – Annual License Checklist
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?
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.
Do I need to apply for a state-issued license along with my county/city-issued license?
A state-issued license is required in complying with the proper state regulatory authorities.
My city/county has banned commercial cannabis activities, can I still apply for a state license?
California’s three licensing authorities will not issue 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 of Cannabis Control 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).
Where can I find a list of licensed commercial cannabis businesses?
The three licensing authorities have issued over 5,000 licenses to commercial cannabis businesses throughout the state of California. The links below redirect to each licensing authority’s licensee holder search tool. There you can search to see which businesses have been issued a state cannabis license by location, license type, and more. For cultivation and manufacturing license search tools, please access the CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch licensee holder searches.
Can I attend any workshops that help cannabis industry members understand the new regulatory structure?
The Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch and other state agencies regularly schedule meetings, workshops, and hearings for those interested in becoming involved in California’s regulated cannabis industry. Public attendance is welcomed at these meetings. Details for these events can be found on the Upcoming Events page of the California Cannabis Portal and on the event calendar located on the home page.
How can I file a complaint against licensed/unlicensed commercial cannabis activity?
California’s three licensing authorities provide the option to file a complaint against any licensed/unlicensed commercial cannabis activity. For tips on illegal cannabis cultivation operations or related complains, call the CalCannabis toll-free hotline: 1-833-WEED-TIP. In addition to reporting such activity to the state, it’s recommended to file a report with your local authorities as well.
How can I start a career at the state level in cannabis regulation?
There are a wide variety of careers available in cannabis regulation! The Bureau of Cannabis Control, CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, CDPH’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch, and other state agencies are all hiring for a wide variety of positions in the coming months as it relates to cannabis. Active job seekers can find a list of open positions located on the State of California’s jobs website by searching for the term “cannabis” in the search bar.
What’s the best way to stay informed and up to date on recent cannabis regulations and news?
California’s three licensing authorities and their business partners all provide up-to-date information on cannabis regulation and licensing on their respective websites and email alert systems. Each state agency’s information as it relates to cannabis can be found on the home page of California’s Cannabis Portal.
Let’s Talk Cannabis FAQs
Can I use cannabis?
You can legally use cannabis if you are 21 or older. You can also use cannabis if you are 18 or older and have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation or a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card.
How much cannabis can I legally have?
If you are 21 or older you can buy and possess up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of cannabis and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. You can also plant, harvest, dry, and process up to six cannabis plants in your private residence or on the grounds of your residence. If you are 18 or older and have either have current qualifying physician’s recommendation, a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card, or are a Primary Caregiver as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 11362.7(d), you can possess up to eight ounces of dried cannabis and up to six mature or 12 immature cannabis plants, unless the physician’s recommendation specifies a higher amount.
Where can I buy cannabis?
You can only buy cannabis at retail outlets licensed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. Medical cannabis patients can only buy from a licensed medicinal retailer.
Where can I use cannabis?
You can use cannabis on private property. You cannot use, smoke, eat, or vape adult-use cannabis in public places. Property owners and landlords can ban the use and possession of cannabis on their premises. You cannot use cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center while children are present.
What about medicinal cannabis use?
Use of medicinal cannabis is legal if you have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation or a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card. To buy medicinal cannabis, you must be 18 or older and have either have current qualifying physician’s recommendation, a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card, or be a Primary Caregiver as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 11362.7(d). You can possess up to eight ounces of dried cannabis and up to six mature or 12 immature cannabis plants, unless the physician’s recommendation specifies a higher amount. With a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card, you do not have to pay sales tax when you buy cannabis, but you may have to pay other taxes.
Can I carry cannabis around with me?
You can carry up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of cannabis and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. It is against the law for you to have an open container of cannabis in a vehicle while driving or riding in the passenger seat. If you have cannabis in a vehicle, it must be in a sealed package. Otherwise, it must be kept in the trunk of the vehicle. Even if you have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation or a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card, it is illegal to smoke cannabis in an operating vehicle.
Can I get a DUI if I drive while I am high?
Yes. If you are under the influence of cannabis while operating a car, boat, or other vehicle, a law enforcement officer can pull you over and conduct a sobriety test.
Can I leave California with cannabis?
No. It is illegal to bring your cannabis across state lines, even if you are traveling to another state where cannabis is legal.
Is it possible to overdose on cannabis?
A fatal overdose is unlikely. However, smoking or eating high concentrations of THC can affect your judgment, perception, and coordination, and may lead to poisoning, overdose, injuries and accidents.
Will cannabis affect my driving?
Yes. Cannabis can negatively affect the skills you need to drive safely, including reaction time, coordination and concentration. Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and increases your risk of getting into a car crash. If you are under the influence of cannabis while operating a car, boat, or other vehicle, a law enforcement officer can pull you over and conduct a sobriety test.
If I am pregnant, can I use cannabis to relieve nausea?
No. Using any form of cannabis is not recommended for women who are pregnant or who plan to be pregnant soon. If you already use cannabis for medicinal purposes, ask your doctor for an alternative treatment shown to be safe during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about any questions you have about cannabis.
What happens if I am under 21 and caught carrying or using cannabis?
If you are under 21 and caught in possession of cannabis you will be required to complete drug education or counseling and community service (unless you have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation or a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card). You could also face additional penalties (fines and jail time) depending on where you are, whether it is your second offence and other factors.