How to Get a Cannabis Permit in California

Learn the Basics of Getting Started

California has a dual licensing structure. You must first receive a permit from a local jurisdiction whether that’s a city or county. Then you can apply for a State license.


Local Cannabis Permit
It could take you anywhere from 4-12 months to obtain a local cannabis permit. The local permit-ting process is usually a slow process. If you’re city or county allows cannabis businesses, you’ll first need a property to even apply for a permit.

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State Cannabis License
The state license comes into play after you get a local permit. It could take you 4-6 months to get the state license AFTER you’ve obtained one from a city or county. It is important to remember that you will need to have a property locked in (rented or owned) while waiting for licensing to be issued.

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Factors to Consider in Obtaining a Local Cannabis Permit

Local Regulations

Many cities and counties do not grant cannabis permits. Therefore, you need to do some research on where you want to run your business. First step is knowing if your city or county even regulates cannabis businesses.

Zoning

Local zoning regulations will dictate where you can operate a cannabis business. Typically, different zones will allow (or not) for different cannabis business types. For example, retailers may only be allowed in commercial zoning while manufacturers are only allowed in industrial zoning.

Sensitive Uses

Local zoning regulations will dictate where you can operate a cannabis business. Typically, different zones will allow (or not) for different cannabis business types. For example, retailers may only be allowed in commercial zoning while manufacturers are only allowed in industrial zoning.

Amount of Local Permits Allowed

Cities and counties will often set a limit to the number of permits they’re willing to issue. Dispen-saries are usually the most restricted while distribution, manufacturing & cultivation tend to be less limited. This is not always true though, so be sure to find out if any permits are still being issued before choosing a city or county to operate in.

Permit Fees

Becoming a legal cannabis business is not cheap! Local permitting fees can be anywhere from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. If permits are limited and a competitive process is in place to issue them you could spend a lot of money and not even win a permit.

Local Taxes

Local cannabis taxes are important to remember! When choosing where to setup your business you don’t want to forget what happens when you’re actually operating. Local cannabis taxes can be anywhere from 5% – 10% of your gross revenue. In some areas they charge you by the square footage of your building rather than a percentage.

Factors to Consider in Obtaining a State Cannabis License

Licensing Fees

State cannabis licensing fees vary by what license type you need and sometimes by your antici-pated annual revenue. They can be as little as $1,000 to as much as $300,000 depending on the size of the operation you plan to do. Remember these are annual fees so you will need to budget for them every year.

Wait Time

It could take you 4-12 months just to get the local permit and then it could take you another 4-6 months just to get that state license. So remember just because you’ve gotten the local permit that does not mean you’re going to be able to begin operations right away.

Lease $$$

Unless you’re friend or family own the property you’re hoping to operate out of, it’s very likely you will need to sign a lease to apply. Sometimes land owners are cool and may hold a space for you until a license is issued but that is very rare. Prepare to pay some kind of costs for the space while you’re unable to operate.