Cannabis Licensing & Regulatory Compliance

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Cannabis Law and compliance is complicated and the risks are great. To ensure you are structured and operating properly, contact one of our legal professionals without delay.

Manzuri Law's cannabis compliance attorneys are experts in regulatory compliance. For many years, we have been the first to procure state and local licenses for our clients.  Before the regulated market, Manzuri law stood next to its clients in the battle for legality. As policy advisors to city and state officials during the beginning of the regulatory market, Manzuri Law has been instrumental in policy influence and elevating the local, state, and national conversation.

Now that state licensing has begun businesses need to be 100% in compliance with state agency regulations and the Medical Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act ("MAUCRSA").


In the summer of 2017, Governor Jerry Brown authored and finalized the trailer bill language ("TBL") which effectively repealed the MCRSA (legislation that provided for California cannabis licenses) and married its provisions with those of Prop 64 (legalization of adult-use cannabis) to create Senate Bill 94, codified as MAUCRSA. MAUCRSA clarifies that commercial cannabis activity is lawful in California so long as it is done under a valid state license with local approval and complies with state regulations. This is perhaps one of the most important additions given the current federal climate regarding cannabis.

Local Approval Required For State Licensing

One of the most important state requirements is that of a local permit. All California cannabis businesses MUST HAVE a local authorization prior to applying for a state cannabis license. Under Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”), each local jurisdiction sets forth their own ordinance, regulations and application process (if they have one at all) for cannabis businesses. While MAUCRSA allows for the cultivation, distribution, retail, manufacturing of cannabis and cannabis labs, there are a lot of cities and counties that still have bans in effect and no process for acquiring a local permit.

Check your city ordinance or consult one of our legal experts to determine your eligibility to operate a California cannabis business in your city.

California Cannabis Licensing

Under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs ("CDCA"), three state agencies govern the application and issuance of state cannabis licenses.

License Applications

All three (3) of these agencies are now accepting annual license applications for cannabis businesses that are already in possession of a city permit/authorization. NOTE - The state no longer issues or extends temporary licenses as of Dec 31, 2018. Applicants must apply for an annual license to ensure the ability to operate with a valid license.

Contact one of our legal experts to find out if your business is eligible for licensing.

California Bureau of Cannabis Control ("BCC")  - Issues applications, licenses and governs regulations for retail, distribution, testing, and microbusiness activities.

California Department of Food and Agriculture (“CDFA”) - Issues applications, licenses and governs regulations for all cultivation activities.

California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) - Issues applications, licenses and governs regulations for all manufacturing activities.

Each of these agencies creates the regulations, procedures and oversee the application process and licensing for each of their respective license types. Although they have all been working on draft regulations since 2017, the final regulations were approved January 2019. To read see links below.


California Code of Regulations, Manufactured Cannabis Safety


Los Angeles - Commercial Cannabis Businesses

After the passage of Measure M in 2017, the City of Los Angeles established the Department of Cannabis Regulation ("DCR") to draft L.A.'s cannabis regulations and oversee the permit process in the city. Currently, the city allows for Retail, Delivery, Distribution, Manufacturing (both volatile and non-volatile), indoor cultivation and testing. L.A. has also placed limits on the number of licenses available within the city. License caps for retail, volatile manufacturing, cultivation and microbusiness cannabis activities are set per Community Plan Area and determined based on a license to population ratio.

Licensing: City of Los Angeles

On January 3, 2018, in accordance with Article 4 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code, the DCR began accepting applications from Prop D compliant Pre-ICO dispensaries in possession of 2017 BTRCs (business tax registration certificates)

Phase 1 and Phase 2 licensing windows closed in Los Angeles, but the city is slated to begin accepting Phase 3 applications for retail and delivery in Spring of 2019.  In order to secure your best possible result for an L.A. retail or delivery license, contact one of our legal professionals.

Phase 1 & 2 Applications. In order to have been considered for a temporary license in Los Angeles, you must have either been: 1)  an Existing Medical Marijuana Dispensary (or "EMMD") (formerly known as a "Pre-ICO" retailer), or 2) a non-retailer who previously operated in the City of L.A. since before Jan 1, 2016, and who is now eligible for the Social Equity Program.

All other applicants will be able to apply in the general population window, opening late 2019 according to the DCR.  For more information on Phase 3, visit our L.A. Update Article

Social Equity Program. The L.A. Social Equity Program was developed to help cure some of the harm the War on Drugs created in the last 50 years, such as those who were victims of the disproportionate arrests for cannabis crimes in low socioeconomic areas. In order to qualify for the Social Equity Program, you must have either been arrested/convicted of a California cannabis crime, have low income, and/or live in a disproportionately impacted area.

Although the City of Los Angeles finalized (much) of its ordinance in early December 2017, multiple amendments have since been made and are almost constantly changing. Our office stays in regular, direct contact with the DCR and the Los Angeles City Council so to find out the latest, give us a call.

Although enforcement may not occur immediately, as of January 1, 2018, any unlicensed operator in Los Angeles must cease operations. Violators face penalties of up to $20,000.00 a day fines and jail time.


For more details and the latest scoop, here are quick links to our most current blog articles

 Cannabis Businesses Feel Whiplash in Los Angeles from Recent Ordinance Changes and New Rules

 Phase 2: Only a few days left!

New Cannabis Ordinances in Los Angeles: What Changes Can We Expect to See

Snapshot of LA: 7 New Cannabis Developments