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Editorial Team

Content & Coffee.

In 2018 California legalized the use of recreational marijuana and under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Individuals 21 years or older are now permitted to use marijuana recreationally.


Since the legality of recreational marijuana in California more questions of how to make it into a business have arose. 


One of those questions is what licenses do businesses need to start a recreational marijuana dispensary in California. This informational guide will help get you on the right track to beginning your new business.


Getting Started


California has 2 types of marijuana sale licenses:


An “A-license” (Adult-Use License) permits the sale of recreational marijuana. This covers cannabis or cannabis products intended for adults who are 21 years of age or older and who do not possess a physician’s recommendation.


An “M-license” (Medical Marijuana License) permits commercial activity of medical marijuana.


Local, City or County License


Before looking into a Cannabis License to start your new business, you will need to contact the local jurisdiction in which your business will be located.


Each city or county may have different regulations and rules when it comes to starting a recreational marijuana dispensary. Some may even prohibit the sale of marijuana entirely. In order to comply with these regulations and ordinances the state of California requires proof of approval from their local, city, or county.


Seller’s Permit 


Like any other business that intends to sell goods, you will need is to obtain a seller’s permit through the state. 


A California seller’s permit gives your business the authority to make sales and collect sales tax within the state.


There is no fee, and you can apply online or in-person at a CDTFA office.


Some personal information you will need to apply:


Social Security number or another personal ID number (passport, driver’s license, etc.)

Business’s date of incorporation

Employer identification number (EIN)

Bank account details

Supplier information

Estimated monthly sales


Apply for a California seller’s permit


Cannabis Licensing 


To get started with applying for a Cannabis License, you must know what category your business will be. There are a few different licenses for different types of cannabis businesses:





Testing Laboratories 



The Bureau of Cannabis Control is the lead agency in regulating commercial cannabis licenses for medical and adult-use cannabis in California. The Bureau is responsible for licensing retailers, distributors, testing labs, microbusinesses, and temporary cannabis events.


Cultivation and Manufacturing are handled by different agencies. More information can be found here:


Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch


All of this information can be found at the Bureau of Cannabis Control California. Here you can apply and pay online to get started. 


More Information


California’s Cannabis Portal is a great place to go to if you have any questions about the business; including licensing, laws and regulations, consumers, resources and more. 


Please keep in mind, this is a basic informational guide. The rules and regulations are always changing and updating, in order to properly start a cannabis business in California, you should contact the Bureau of Cannabis Control California to get the latest up to date requirements.