Open a Dispensary in California

Summary of Marijuana Laws

In 2017, California passed MAUCRSA (the Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act) , creating a regulatory structure for commercial marijuana businesses. As of January 1, 2018, state agencies are accepting compliance-based applications for marijuana licenses on a rolling basis.


However, California has a dual licensing system: In order to submit a state application, marijuana businesses must demonstrate compliance with local jurisdictions. Many jurisdictions have banned these businesses or have implemented competitive applications and processes with specific deadlines.


California is one of the most promising marijuana markets in the country. According to all industry analysts (such as ArcView and BDS Analytics), California is the most lucrative state marijuana market. Analysts project California marijuana sales of $3.7B for 2018, growing to $7.7B by 2021–triple the anticipated marijuana market value of any other state.


With over 6,000 marijuana licenses awarded as of June 30, 2018, the state has already granted 40% of active licenses nationwide. Prospective marijuana entrepreneurs can apply for marijuana business licenses of almost any type: marijuana cultivation (distinguished by size and indoor/outdoor/mixed light, as well as nursery), marijuana manufacturing (including volatile extraction, non-volatile extraction, or edibles and topicals creation), marijuana retail (including brick and mortar or delivery), marijuana transportation and distribution, and marijuana events production. A combination microbusiness license is also available. Licenses may be for either adult use, medical marijuana, or both.


Content updated July 13, 2018.