Do I need a Cannabis Retail License to Open?

Yes, a license is required for both medical and adult-use dispensaries. California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 by Proposition 215. In 2016, Proposition 64 legalized adult-use marijuana. Since then, there have been several changes to the cannabis regulations for both license types.

What are the Cannabis Regulatory Agencies?

California has multiple regulatory agencies. The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) manages both medical and recreational retail cannabis licenses, with a few exceptions. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is responsible for regulating cannabis-infused edibles, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) issues cultivation licenses. There are plans to consolidate these agencies into the Department of Cannabis Control in 2021.

Some cities also have cannabis regulatory agencies. Los Angeles has the Department of Cannabis Regulation that manages licensing. San Francisco has the Office of Cannabis. Retailers will need to acquire a license from both the local and state agency before they can legally open.

How can I apply for a license in California?

Cannabis retailers can apply for a license online through the Bureau of Cannabis Control website. However, you’ll also need to apply for a local license depending on your municipality.

How much does a dispensary license cost?

California cannabis retailers must pay a $1000 license application fee whether it’s for a medical or adult-use business. There are also additional fees based on the amount of sales that range from $4,000-$72,000.

Will I need to get local authorization to get a license?

It depends. Each city and county handle this differently. Los Angeles and San Francisco have their own licensing agencies however several local authorities have chosen to ban cannabis dispensaries. Applicants should check with their city and county prior to applying for a state retail license.

What are the customer age requirements for California?

Adult-use customers must be 21 or older to buy and possess cannabis. Medical marijuana patients between 18 and 20 years old can apply for a state medical marijuana card.

What time can I open and close my dispensary?

California cannabis retailers are allowed to make sales between 6am and 10pm PST.

Who do I report to for state compliance?

All licensed dispensaries in California are required to report their sales to state regulators using the Metrc Track and Trace system. This process can be automated by a point-of-sale system that is fully integrated with Metrc.

Are there daily purchase limits on cannabis?

Adult-use consumers can purchase up to 28.5 grams of cannabis flower, up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate and up to six live plants.
Medical marijuana patients with a state issued MMJ card can buy and possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana and 12 live plants.

How do I keep my dispensary compliant?

Keeping your dispensary compliant starts with implementing a POS system that can automate state reporting. Keeping track of inventory, enforcing purchase limits, and making sure your customers are of legal age is imperative to maintaining compliance.

Can I start a delivery service in California?

Yes. In November of 2020, a California court ruled that cannabis delivery is legal statewide even if local municipalities have banned brick and mortar dispensaries. To start a delivery service you will need to apply for a non-storefront license.