Frequently Asked Questions
How can I apply for a commercial cannabis license?
California’s three cannabis licensing authorities are currently accepting applications for commercial cannabis activity. Information on where to apply can be found on the licensing tab.
It’s also recommended that interested parties contact their local government first regarding the rules and requirements applicable to cannabis activities in that city or county prior to applying for state licensure.
What type of license will I need to do business?
The type of license you need will depend on your business and what commercial cannabis activities you plan to engage in. The different licensing types include cultivation, manufacturing, testing laboratory, retailer, distributor, microbusiness, and cannabis event organizer. Subcategories for each type of license can be found in the MAUCRSA.
Who is responsible for issuing 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 do application/license fees cost?
Application and license fees are available in each licensing authority’s cannabis regulations.
- Bureau of Cannabis Control – Text of Regulations – pages 17-20
- California Department of Food and Agriculture – Text of Regulations – pages 4-5 & 21
- California Department of Public Health – Text of Regulations – page 29
The license fees are based on an applicant’s or licensee’s estimated gross revenue for the 12-month license period of the license. Scaled fees are required by Business and Professions Code section 26180.
An applicant must submit an application fee with their annual license application. If an annual application is approved, an applicant is required to submit the necessary license fee before the respective licensing authority will issue the annual license.
Can I still apply for a temporary license?
Business and Professions Code section 26050.1 allowed California’s three licensing authorities to issue temporary commercial cannabis licenses until December 31, 2018. A temporary license is a conditional license that allows a business to engage in commercial cannabis activity for a period of 120 days and may be given 90-day extensions if the licensee has applied for an annual license with the respective licensing authority.
As of January 1, 2019, the three licensing authorities can no longer issue or extend any temporary licenses. Please refer to the Apply for a License page to apply for an annual or a provisional state cannabis license.
What materials will I need to provide to the state on my licensing application?
Required documents vary depending on the type of license you’re applying for. The licensing application guidelines are listed in each licensing authority’s cannabis regulations.
- Bureau of Cannabis Control – Text of Regulations
- California Department of Food and Agriculture – Text of Regulations
- California Department of Public Health – Text of 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 on if commercial cannabis activity is permitted in your area and the requirements to engage in these 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 if your jurisdiction requires a license. Applicants for state commercial cannabis licenses must be in compliance with all local regulations and ordinances. Questions regarding what commercial cannabis activities are permitted within a local jurisdiction should be directed to the local jurisdiction you wish to operate out of.
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 cannabis 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.
Is there a limit on the number of commercial cannabis licenses that are issued?
The state’s three cannabis licensing authorities currently have no plans to limit the number of commercial cannabis licenses they 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 state’s three licensing authorities have issued over 10,000 commercial cannabis licenses to cannabis businesses throughout the state of California. The links below redirect to each licensing authority’s license system search. There you can search to see which businesses have been issued a state cannabis license by location, license type, and more.
To find valid cultivation and manufacturing licenses, please visit the CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch’s search systems. For all other license types, (retail, distribution, microbusiness, testing laboratory, and temporary cannabis events), please use the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s license search.
What State Cannabis Meetings & Events Can I Attend?
The Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch, and other state agencies regularly schedule meetings, workshops, public hearings, and other events for those interested in becoming involved in California’s regulated cannabis industry. Public participation and attendance is welcomed at these events.
Details on both past and future state cannabis events, including dates and times, are linked to each state agency’s on the Meetings & Events page. (Additionally, events are also updated and added to the “Calendar of Agency Events” on the cannabis portal’s home page.)
How can I file a complaint against licensed/unlicensed commercial cannabis activity?
The three state cannabis licensing authorities provide the public with the option to file a complaint against any licensed or unlicensed commercial cannabis activity throughout California. 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.