California Marijuana Licensing

Interested in starting a Cannabis business in California?

Related Pages:
California Marijuana Cultivation License >
California Marijuana Distribution License >
California Marijuana Event Organizer License >
California Marijuana Manufacturing License >
California Marijuana Microbusiness License >
California Marijuana Testing License >

What License Types Exist in California?

There are 30 cannabis business license types in California authorizing various marijuana business activities. It is possible for a cannabis business to hold more than one license in California. However, some licenses are exclusive. For example, entities with the cannabis testing license are not permitted to hold other types of cannabis licenses. Similarly, large cultivators cannot obtain California’s cannabis microbusiness license.

Cultivation Licenses

There are currently 17 cannabis cultivation licenses in the State of California. These include:

  • outdoor licenses for cultivators intending to grow cannabis outside and without the use of artificial lighting;
  • indoor licenses for growing cannabis in permanent indoor spaces illuminated with artificial lights outputting at least 25 watts per square foot; and
  • mixed-light licenses for cultivating cannabis in greenhouses, glasshouses, hothouses, hoop-houses, and conservatories

California offers two tiers of mixed-light cultivation licenses. Tier 1 licensees must use artificial light outputting up to 6 watts per square foot while the Tier 2 license allows 6 - 25 watts of artificial light per square foot.

Cultivation: Specialty Cottage

  • Specialty Cottage Outdoor: licensed to grow up to 25 mature plants or cultivate up to 2,500 square feet of canopy
  • Specialty Cottage Indoor: licensed to cultivate up to 500 square feet of cannabis plant canopy
  • Specialty Cottage Mixed-Light Tiers 1 & 2: grow up to 2,500 square feet of canopy

Cultivation: Specialty

  • Specialty Outdoor: grow up to 50 mature plants or a canopy measuring up to 5,000 square feet
  • Specialty Indoor: cultivate a canopy size between 501 and 5,000 square feet
  • Specialty Mixed-Light Tiers 1 & 2: cultivate a canopy size between 2,501 and 5,000 square feet

Cultivation: Small

  • Small Outdoor: cultivate a cannabis canopy size between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet
  • Small Indoor: cultivate a cannabis canopy size between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet
  • Small Mixed-Light Tiers 1 & 2: cultivate a cannabis canopy size between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet

Cultivation: Medium

  • Medium Outdoor: cultivate a cannabis canopy between 10,001 square feet to 1 acre
  • Medium Indoor: cultivate between 10,001 and 22,000 square feet of cannabis canopy
  • Medium Mixed-Light Tiers 1 & 2: cultivate between 10,001 and 22,000 square feet of cannabis canopy

Cultivation: Large

  • Large Outdoor: cultivate over 1 acre of total canopy
  • Large Indoor: cultivate over 22,000 square feet of cannabis canopy
  • Large Mixed-Light Tiers: cultivate over 22,000 square feet of cannabis canopy

Cultivation: Nursery

This license is issued to cultivators only interested in growing cannabis used for propagation such as clones, seeds, and immature plants.

Cultivation: Processor

This is the license needed by cultivators that only conduct tasks required for the processing of cultivated cannabis. Such tasks include trimming, drying, curing, grading, packaging, and labeling cannabis products.

Manufacturing Licenses

California has five cannabis manufacturing licenses. The state classifies these license types by the manufacturing activities conducted; the chemicals used during extraction and post-processing; and whether a facility is used solely for cannabis manufacturing or shared with other cannabis manufacturers.

Type 7: Volatile Solvent Manufacturing

This manufacturing license covers the scopes of all the other manufacturing licenses except for Type S. This is the license to get for manufacturers intending to use volatile solvents in the extraction and post-extraction processing of cannabis extracts. Manufacturers with this license may also use mechanical methods of extraction and non-volatile solvents during extraction and post-extraction steps. The license also allows them to make infused cannabis products as well as package and label cannabis products.

California defines volatile solvents as chemicals that may produce flammable vapor or gas. It approves the following volatile solvents for cannabis manufacturing:

  • Propane
  • Butane
  • Hexane
  • Heptane

Type 6: Mechanical Extraction or Non-Volatile Solvent Manufacturing

This license covers all cannabis manufacturing activities except the use of volatile solvents and shared-use facilities. Therefore, license holders can use mechanical methods that rely on pressure or temperature changes to extract cannabinoids from cannabis. They may also use non-volatile solvents, which are chemicals that produce no flammable vapor or gas, during the extraction and post-extraction processing of cannabis. Commonly used non-volatile solvents in cannabis manufacturing include butter, cooking oil, ethanol, and carbon dioxide. With this license, a cannabis business can also infuse cannabis products as well as package and label those products.

Type N: Infusion of Products

Type N licensees can make cannabis products through infusion in order to improve their flavor or some other quality. They are also allowed to package and label cannabis products.

Type P: Packaging and Labeling

Manufacturers with this license are only allowed to package and label cannabis products.

Type S: Shared-Use Facility

A Type S license allows a business to share manufacturing space and equipment with other Type S license holders. Businesses with Type S license can extract cannabis using mechanical methods or water, animal fat, glycerin, vegetable oil, or food-grade oils. They may also manufacture infused cannabis products as well as package and label cannabis products. California allows any business with Type 6, 7, or N license to also obtain a Type S license.

Testing License

Also referred to as Type 8 license, this license is issued to authorize the testing of cannabis products. Testing licensees are required to have their facilities pass the ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. A testing licensee cannot hold a license in another cannabis license category. A licensee cannot also own or have an ownership interest in a facility licensed under the Department of Cannabis Control.

Retail Licenses

Type 9: Non-Storefront Retailer

Also known as a delivery license, this is for a retailer that wants to sell cannabis products to customers only by delivery, without owning a dispensary.

Type 10: Storefront Retailer

This is the license required to operate a cannabis dispensary in California. It allows a retailer to sell cannabis products from a registered physical location. The license also allows the retailer to deliver cannabis products to shoppers’ addresses.

Distribution Licenses

Type 11: Distributor

Businesses with Type 11 distributor licenses can provide storage and transport services for other licensees. They can move cannabis plants and products from cultivation sites to manufacturing and distribution locations and also to dispensaries and other retail outlets. Licensed distributors are also authorized to move, and arrange for, cannabis products for testing.

Type 13 - Transport-only Distributor

This is a limited distribution license that only allows for the transportation of cannabis products between cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution sites. California charges a lower Type 13 license fee for cultivators and manufacturers who only plan on transporting the cannabis they grow and produce.

Type 12 - Microbusiness License

This license is for small-scale vertically integrated cannabis businesses. California grants this license to any business intending to conduct at least three out of these cannabis activities in a single location:

  • Cultivate up to 10,000 square feet of cannabis canopy
  • Manufacture cannabis products using mechanical methods, non-volatile solvents, or infusion
  • Distribute cannabis products either as a general distributor or transport-only distributor
  • Own and run a storefront or delivery-only retail outlet

Event Licenses

California offers two types of cannabis event licenses: event organizer license and temporary cannabis event license. The event organizer license is for the individual holding a cannabis event while the temporary cannabis event license is for the event itself.

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California Marijuana Licensing