Introduction to California Cannabis Licensing

California Cannabis Licensing: Introduction

Cannabis applicants must obtain both local and state licensing before they can open up a cannabis business in California. However, not all local jurisdictions allow commercial cannabis activity within their borders. Prop. 64 grants broad authority to local government to regulate cannabis within its jurisdiction, including the discretion to prohibit commercial cannabis activity altogether or to only allow certain license types.

Local Control

A local jurisdiction may not allow commercial cannabis activity at all or may only allow certain types of businesses to operate. Do not invest time and/or money into obtaining a cannabis license until you confirm that the specific license type sought after is offered by your local jurisdiction.

Cannabis applications in California require that you provide evidence showing that your local jurisdiction has approved your cannabis business, so you will not get very far in the licensing process is you skip this step.

State Regulators

Three separate state agencies previously regulated and licensed cannabis companies in California:

  1. Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”)
  2. Department of Food and Agriculture (“CDFA”)
  3. Department of Public Health (“CDPH”)

As of July 2021, the three agencies above have consolidated into one agency: the Department of Cannabis Control (“DCC”). The DCC is currently in the process of consolidating the three prior sets of cannabis regulations into one.

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