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Cannabis Licensing – A short story

What is cannabis licensing?

California offers a unique opportunity for businesses looking to enter the cannabis industry. The state is home to a large and growing market for legal cannabis products, and it has a well-established regulatory framework in place.

However, getting a license to operate a cannabis business in California is not a simple process. There are a number of requirements that must be met, and the application process can be complex. Here are some things you should know if you’re considering applying for a cannabis license in California.

Different licenses for different activities.

You will need to choose the type of license you need. There are different licenses for cannabis businesses, including growers, manufacturers, retailers, and delivery services. Each license type has its own requirements, so be sure to research the requirements for the license you’re interested in before beginning the application process.

Information and Records.

Once you’ve chosen the type of permit you need, you’ll need to gather the required information and documents. This includes things like proof of business ownership, tax information, and local permits. You’ll also need to submit an extensive business plan that outlines your proposed operation. After gathering all of the required materials, you can begin filling out your application. The application process can be lengthy, so be prepared to spend some time on it.

After your application is submitted online, it will be reviewed by the Department of Cannabis Control. If the Department of Cannabis Control approves your application, you’ll be issued a license and will be able to operate your cannabis business in California legally. However, if additional information is required by the Department of Cannabis Control, you will receive a notice for more information before a final approval is considered or issued.

California cannabis local authorization

To obtain a state cannabis license in California, you’ll need local authorization from the city or county where you intend to operate your business. This process can vary depending on the locality, but it typically involves submitting an application and undergoing a background check. You may also be required to attend a public hearing. Once you’ve obtained local authorization, you can move on to the next step in the licensing process.

What are common complaints from applicants?

The most common complaints from applicants are cost, delays, and confusion.


Legal cannabis operations are expensive. It seems like every day a business receives a new notice from the Department of Cannabis Control requesting additional information or informing the licensee of a new change in regulations that impacts anything from compliance to operations.


The Department of Cannabis Control, the agency that regulates commercial cannabis activities, is notorious for delays. Applicants experience delays when they apply for their licenses, and when they apply to have their licenses renewed annually.

cannabis licensing delays

Commonly, an applicant will gripe that their online account isn’t being timely updated, or even worse, that their online account has crashed and there is no technical assistance to help them. Many applicants will complain that even though their application is complete, final approval isn’t issued for weeks or months.


anger and confusion cannabis delays

Why is the processing of my application taking so long and when will it be complete?

When will I get my approval?

Who do I send my local approval to?

Where do I send my CEQA report?

Is there anyone at the DCC who can provide me with assistance?

These are all questions and concerns people express while their application is undergoing processing.

Ok, but do I absolutely need a license before engaging in commercial cannabis activity?

Yes. Every person or business that wants to engage in commercial cannabis activity, whether for distribution, manufacturing, or processing, must undergo the licensing approval process. There are no exceptions. Every applicant should wait until it receives final legal approval before it engages in commercial cannabis activity of any type, otherwise, it can expose themselves to prosecution.