Cannabis California State Law Consultation Services


A cannabis entrepreneur must recognize the risk they are taking prior to entering the industry:

Even if you legally obtain your state and local cannabis license, you are still breaking Federal Law and are subject to Federal criminal and civil penalties.

The content below operates under the assumption that you are aware of said risk, and understand the potential consequences. None of the content that follows intends to endorse or encourage breaking Federal Law. This content, therefore, does not constitute legal advice or create any attorney-client relationship. It is an informational resource on current California State and Local licensing procedures.


Currently, the State of California offers the following State medical and/or adult-use cannabis permits:

  • Retailer
  • Distributor
  • Microbusiness
  • Testing Laboratory
  • Cannabis Event Organizer

Many California towns and cities offer all, or at least some of these marijuana license types. In order to operate in the medical and/or adult-use cannabis space, you must obtain both a state and local license. To obtain both licenses, you have to file separate applications with the state and locality you plan to operate in. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the most important thing to keep in mind when applying for any type of medical or adult-use marijuana license is:

Local law rules the day.

What does this mean for the cannabis entrepreneur? Make sure that you find a location that will allow you to run your marijuana business before worrying about the state application process. Part of the State medical and/or adult-use marijuana application process requires an applicant to show compliance with local law. The state regulations, however, also give local government leeway to come up with their own rules and regulations. This leeway includes allowing a complete ban on all commercial cannabis activity.

Local Cannabusiness City Bans

While a marijuana entrepreneur absolutely cannot operate a cannabusiness without the proper local permits, if you find yourself in a city or town that has banned all cannabis activity, all hope is not lost. Many municipalities seem to be taking a "wait and see" approach, so there's always a chance that the ban will be lifted down the road. To get ahead of the game and be prepared to submit your application once a ban is lifted, a marijuana entrepreneur may want to look at the state application process (links to the applications below), as well as the application process of surrounding localities to get an idea of what type of documentation the application process will require. Local applications across the California are similar, so you can expect to see similar requirements for each license type across the board.

After finding a locality to operate in, a marijuana entrepreneur needs to prospect and find a location for their business. If renting is the only option, one must also do some research and find a landlord who comfortable with the inherent risk of renting to a tenant involved in the marijuana business mentioned in the disclaimer at the beginning of this content.

When in doubt, always start with the Bureau of Cannabis Control's website or merely Google the regulations of the city/town you have question about. In addition to the links below, the Bureau of Cannabis control has helpful tutorials in PDF and Video form that breaks down the State licensing process. City and county websites tend to be similarly helpful. Our firm also regularly produces content on State and Local California cannabis licensing on this website, as well as on Instagram at @KocotLaw.

Helpful Links:

  • California State Regulations: PDF Form
  • Cannabis Retailer License State Application: PDF Form
  • Cannabis Distributor License State Application: PDF Form
  • Cannabis Microbusiness License State Application: PDF Form
  • Cannabis Testing Laboratory License State Application: PDF Form
  • Cannabis Event Organizer License State Application: PDF Form

Have questions about Cannabis State Laws in California?

If you have any questions about the Sacramento cannabis licensing process, contact Attorney Kocot directly at 916-572-6455 or at