What Is a Marijuana Event Organizer License?
Marijuana event organizer licenses in California are issued to qualified persons in order for them to legally organize cannabis events. Cannabis events in California are multi-day events where the sale and consumption of cannabis are permitted. These events last between one to four days at locations approved by the cities or counties where they are being held. Cannabis events are hosted by cannabis event organizers.
To host a cannabis event in California, the organizer must have two licenses: a cannabis event organizer license and a temporary cannabis event license. Note that a cannabis event organizer license does not authorize the holder to:
- Cultivate cannabis
- Distribute cannabis or cannabis products
- Manufacture cannabis products
- Sell cannabis goods
Does California Issue Marijuana Event Organizer License?
Per California law, the social consumption of marijuana is now legal as is the sale of licensed marijuana products at events. Cannabis events, including sales and consumption, are regulated by the Department of Cannabis Control (BCC). Persons interested in organizing and hosting public, ticketed events that allow consumption and sales must possess the California Event Organizer License and the Temporary Cannabis Event License, both issued by the BCC.
Cannabis event organizers must receive written permission from the local municipality in which the event will be held, which must then be submitted to the BCC, along with an extra $1,000 application fee per event permit application, at least 60 days before the event's commencement. Changes to the application, including a final list of licensed vendors included in the Notification and Requests form, must be provided 72 hours before the event.
Events that permit the sale and use of legal cannabis must also prohibit the sale and consumption of tobacco and alcohol. Private events conducted at personal homes are exempt from BCC license requirements and may permit possession and consumption at the property owners' discretion, as long as there are no clear commercial cannabis activities of any kind. You do not also need a cannabis license if you are hosting an education event or just sharing information on cannabis. However, if you plan to display marijuana products during an educational event, you are required to adhere to marijuana possession limits in the state.
A simple guideline to follow is to consider if you plan to advertise the event to the general public (no invite-only policy), charge a cover or sell tickets, conduct the event on the premises of a registered cannabis company, or if the event includes the direct or indirect sale of cannabis products. If you intend to do any of this, then it is a public event. Note that any advertising associated with the cannabis event must adhere to state regulations requiring that at least 71.6% of the audience marketed to is 21 years or older.
California businesses with licenses permitting them to operate in the cannabis industry are allowed to participate, sponsor, and exhibit at cannabis events regardless of whether sales and consumption occur, though only those with retail licenses may sell their licensed product on-site at their booths. Organizers interested in collaborating with brands and cultivators who lack retail licenses may partner with third-party distributors, which provide compliant point-of-sale systems, partnerships with distributor and retail licensees, and an on-site approved point of distribution that allows brands to sell under the collaborating license while showcasing marijuana products at their own booths.
Licensed event organizers are required to coordinate all facets of the event, such as:
- Taking care of the event space
- Employing security personnel
- Affixing necessary signage
- Providing a list of participants to the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC)
- Providing DCC with a diagram depicting the layout of the event and the locations of attendees
- Providing the DCC with the contact information for a designated contact person(s) who will be on-site and accessible by phone during the event.
- Cannabis event organizers in California must also ensure that:
- All cannabis goods sold at the event are transported to the event site by licensed distributors.
- All cannabis goods are tested before retail sales.
- Only microbusinesses licensed to sell cannabis goods to retail customers or licensed retailers can sell at a temporary cannabis event.
- All cannabis goods sold comply with the retailer standards including displays, exit packing, customer returns, daily sales limitations, and free samples.
- All sales of cannabis goods at the event is restricted to individuals aged 21 or older
- Licensees engaging in the selling of cannabis products limit their sales operations to their authorized areas. It is not permitted to sell cannabis goods through the use of a mobile cart or similar device.
- Access to the area where cannabis use is permitted is limited to those aged 21 or older and is not visible from any public place or area that is not age-restricted.
- Payment to a cannabis event organizer is not determined based on, or tied to, the sale of cannabis goods.
Do Event Organizer Licensees in California Need Temporary Marijuana Event License Too?
Yes. The Department of Cannabis Control requires a licensed event organizer to obtain a temporary cannabis event license. The event organizer license is issued to persons certified to host cannabis events, while the temporary cannabis event license is for the specific event the licensed event organizer intends to hold. A temporary cannabis event license is required in order to hold a temporary cannabis event that allows for the sale and use of cannabis goods on-site at the location specified on the license. A temporary cannabis event license will only be issued to a duly licensed event organizer.
Note that no temporary cannabis event license will be granted for more than four consecutive days. The DCC will issue a separate temporary cannabis event license for each event based on the date(s) and location of the event. Cannabis activities must be conducted at a county fair or district agricultural association event, or any location specifically approved for temporary cannabis events by a local jurisdiction.
How to Get a Marijuana Event Organizer License in California
Before beginning the application process for a cannabis event organizer license in California, it is expedient that you research any applicable ordinances in the area where you propose to locate your business. Ordinances can define or restrict where in the municipality you may locate the business, work hours, and operation methods. Some municipalities also have ordinances that support persons who have been negatively impacted by the enforcement of cannabis law to participate in the cannabis industry by enforcing lesser barriers to entry. For instance, persons disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs in California who apply for cannabis licenses stand to enjoy the following:
- Faster application processes
- Assistance during the licensing processes
- Help with operating their businesses
- Direct financial support
Some approved municipality ordinances in California include:
To complete your application online, visit the DCC licensing system and create an account by providing a username and password and setting up a security question and answer. When starting the application, select the cannabis event organizer license to continue with the process. The following information will be required:
- Business organizational structure: Applicants must identify their business's organizational structure.
- Business contact information: For an individual, the applicant's first and last names are needed. If the application is a commercial entity, the applicant must provide the full legal business name. The applicant's business name must be identical to the business name stated on the company formation papers submitted to the DCC. The applicant must provide the physical address of the premises, as well as the postal address if it differs from the physical location of the premises. Additionally, the business's website address, email address, and telephone number must be included.
- SSN, ITIN, FEIN: Before an application may be accepted, the applicant must submit a valid Social Security number, individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
- Primary contact person: The applicant must include the main contact's name, title, telephone number, and email address. The DCC licensing team will discuss the application solely with this individual and a company owner mentioned on the application. The main contact is the individual designated as the point of contact for licensing authorities seeking information about the company.
- Labor peace agreement: If the applicant has twenty or more non-supervisory employees, the applicant must either (a) have entered into a labor peace agreement and provided a copy of the signature page along with a notarized statement that the agreement's terms will be followed, or (b) provide a notarized statement indicating that the applicant will enter into and adhere to a labor peace agreement as soon as reasonably practicable. \
If the applicant does not have at least 20 non-supervisory workers, a notarized declaration stating that the applicant will enter into and adhere to a labor peace agreement within 60 days of employing its 20th non-supervisory employee must be provided.
- Limited waiver of sovereign immunity: If an applicant is a federally recognized tribe or other sovereign body, a restricted waiver is needed. The signed waiver must include a representation that they will adhere to all relevant state laws, rules, and regulations governing commercial cannabis activities. The applicant must establish legal authority to enter the waiver, and the waiver must be signed and dated by the authorized person.
- State Employment Identification Number (SEIN): For applicants with more than one employee, the applicant's SEIN as issued by the California Employment Development Department is required.
- Cal-OSHA: For applicants with more than one employee, the applicant must certify a current employment or prospective employment within one year of receiving a license, two persons (one supervisor and one employee) who have completed a Cal-OSHA 30-hour general industry outreach course offered by a training provider authorized to provide the course by an OSHA Training Institute Education Center.
- List of Owners: Each owner must complete an Owner Submission form and submit fingerprint images electronically to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The applicant must complete the Department of Cannabis Control's live scan form. The locations for live scans are accessible on the California Attorney General's website. The DCC defines as owner as:
- An individual having a combined ownership stake of at least 20%.
- The chief executive officer of a non-profit organization or other corporation.
- A member of a nonprofit organization's board of directors.
- The trustee(s) and any individuals who exercise control over the trust and/or commercial cannabis enterprise owned by the trust.
- A person who is entitled to at least 20% of the earnings from the commercial cannabis business.
- A person who will be involved in the control, or management of the license applicant. This may involve the following:
- A general partnership formed for the purpose of doing commercial cannabis business.
- A non-member, managing member,or manager of a limited liability corporation established for the purpose of doing commercial cannabis operations.
- A corporate officer or director of a commercial cannabis business.
- Entity Ownership: Trusts, businesses, or organizations that have financial interests in an applicant who may or may not qualify as owners, are considered entity owners.
- If an entity is an owner in the cannabis microbusiness: all entities and individuals with a financial interest in the entity must be disclosed to the DCC and may be considered owners of the commercial cannabis microbusiness. \
This covers all entities in a multi-tiered corporate structure, chief executive officer, members of the board of directors, partners, trustees, and all individuals who have authority over a trust, as well as managing members or non-member managers of the entity. Each entity identified as having a financial interest is required to reveal the names of people who also have financial interests, until only individuals remain.
- If an entity has a financial interest: all individuals who are owners of that entity must be considered financial interest holders of the business. This includes all entities in a multi-tiered corporate structure, chief executive officer, members of the board of directors, partners, trustees, and all other individuals who exercise authority over a trust, as well as managing members of non-member managers of the entity. \
Each entity identified as having a financial interest is required to reveal the names of people who also have financial interests, until only individuals remain.
- Non-owners with financial interests in the business: Non-owners include all people who have financial interests in an application company but do not meet the DCC's definition of an owner. Except as provided in the DCC regulations Section 15004, financial interest means an agreement to receive a share of the profits of a commercial cannabis business, an investment or loan provided in a commercial cannabis business, or any other equity interest in a commercial business \
Individuals that have entered into an agreement to receive a share of the earnings include, but are not limited to, the following:
- An employee who has agreed to participate in a profit-sharing arrangement with a commercial cannabis business.
- A landlord who has agreed to share earnings with a commercial cannabis business in exchange for a lease.
- A consultant who provides services to a commercial marijuana business in exchange for a percentage of the earnings.
- A person working as an agent for the commercial cannabis business, such as an accountant or attorney, in exchange for a percentage of the earnings.
- A broker who engages in commercial cannabis business operations in exchange for a cut of the earnings.
- A commission-based salesman
- Fictitious business names: Applicants are required to provide the lists of all fictitious business names they will operate under and the addresses of the businesses.
- Licensing application fee: The applicant is required to make payment for the license application fee of $1,000.
- Business formation documents: Applicants are required to provide a copy of all business formation documents in accordance with the type of formation. For a business held in trust, the applicant must provide a copy of the trust. For other business structures, the required documentations are:
- Trusts: Certificate of Trust authorizing the Trustee to act as Trustee.
- General Partnership: Statement of Partnership Authority, Partnership Agreement, and Tax Forms.
- Limited Partnership: Certificates of Limited Partnership, Operating Agreements, Partnership Agreements, and tax forms.
- Corporation: Articles of Incorporation, Information Statement, Stock Certificate, Stock Ledger, Organizational Charts, Bylaws, and Board of Directors List.
- Limited Liability Company: Statement of Information, Articles of Organization, and Operating Agreements.
- Foreign Corporation or Foreign Limited Liability Company: California Secretary of State-issued Certificate of Qualification, Statement and Designation by Foreign Professional Corporation, Certificate of Registration, or Certificate of Status.
- Sole Proprietor: Filing of a Fictitious Business Name form with the local business permit agency, as well as tax documents. The paperwork must support the kind of company structure, the legal business name, and the ownership percentages of the owners.
- Financial information form: Applicants must provide a list of all investments, loans, funds, and gifts associated with the cannabis business. The applicant must submit the following information for each loan: the loan's amount, the loan's date, the loan's term(s), the loan's security, and the lender's name, address, and phone number. \
The applicant must submit the following information for each investment: the amount of the investment, the date of the investment, the term(s) of the investment, and the investor's name, address, and phone number. \
The applicant must provide the following information for each gift; the value or a description of the gift, as well as the name, address, and phone number of the gift's giver.
- Active or previous military service: Disclosure of current or previous military service is optional. Applicants who were on active services in the Armed Forces of the United States and were honorably discharged and can demonstrate such honorable discharges will have their applications expedited according to Business and Professions Code section 115.4.
- Certificate of Registration, Certificate of Qualification, or Certificate of Status: A commercial cannabis business that is a foreign corporation must submit a copy of the certificate of qualification, registration, or status issued by the California Secretary of State with its application.
The DCC licensing system allows you to save your application progress throughout the online application stage, removing the need for you to complete it all in one sitting. Once you have completed your application, you will be prompted to sign and submit it.
Note that your application will not be processed until the application fee has been paid. If any portion of your application has insufficient information, the DCC licensing team will notify you through email. You will be notified of any necessary modifications or additional information. Additionally, a time restriction will be imposed on your response. By submitting the required material on time, you can guarantee that the DCC will process your application promptly.
The DCC will not process an incomplete application. Complete applications will be those that contain all necessary information. If an applicant fails to provide the required information within the given time frame, the application is considered abandoned. If an application is abandoned, the application fee is non-refundable. At a later period, an applicant who has abandoned an application may choose to reapply; however, a new application and fee will be required.
Following the DCC's approval of your application, the Department will send you an email with information on how to make payment for the licensing fee. Payment is accepted in the form of a check, money order, or credit card. Payments in cash may also be done in person at the DCC office by appointment. Cash payments are not accepted without a prior appointment for security reasons. After you have paid the licensing cost, your license will be granted.
If the fee is paid using a debit or credit card, it will be handled via the DCC's online licensing system, and the applicant will be liable for any processing or convenience fees incurred by the third-party vendor processing the payment on the DCC's behalf. California considers failure to pay the necessary licensing fee to be an offense.
If it is determined that the licensee paid less than the correct licensing price, the licensee will be forced to pay the remaining charge plus a penalty equivalent to 50% of the relevant licensing cost; however, the DCC has the right to waive the penalty fee.
If the DCC rejects an application, the applicant will be informed in writing of the denial and given the chance to contest the decision at a hearing. Within 30 calendar days after the date of mailing the notice of denial, the applicant may seek a hearing by filing a written petition to the DCC. If the applicant does not seek a hearing within 30 days, the applicant's entitlement to a hearing is presumed waived.
You may withdraw an application at any time before the DCC issues or denies the license. To withdraw an application, the applicant must send a dated and signed written letter to the DCC. The DCC will not refund application costs for withdrawn applications. A cannabis event organizer license is valid for one year. Once your license has been approved, the licensing system will provide you a link to obtain the license certificate.
If applicants prefer to complete their applications in person, they may complete the Annual Cannabis Event Organizer License Application form and submit it along with the required documents to:
Department of Cannabis Control
P.O. Box 942872
Sacramento, CA 94271-2872
How to Get a Temporary Marijuana Event License in California
The application procedure for a temporary marijuana event license is similar to the process for obtaining a marijuana event organizer license. The key differences between both application processes lie in the documents required. Note that obtaining a marijuana event organizer license is a prerequisite for obtaining a temporary marijuana event license. The required information and documents for temporary marijuana event license applicants are:
- Business Name: Applicant must provide the business name as listed on the cannabis event organizer license issued by the DCC.
- Primary contact person information: The primary contact is the individual appointed as the point of contact for licensing authorities seeking information about the company. The applicant must provide the name, title, telephone number, and email address of this primary contact. The DCC's personnel will discuss the licensing application solely with this individual and another owner indicated on the business's license application.
- Event information: The applicant must provide the event's name, the location's address, the dates of the event, and the contact information for a designated contact person who must be on-site and available by phone throughout the event's duration. \
The event must be held in a county fair, district agricultural association site, or similar location specifically authorized by a local authority. No permission for a cannabis temporary event will be granted for more than four days. Temporary cannabis event permits will not be granted separately for successive days or for premises permitted to sell alcohol or tobacco.
- Temporary marijuana event diagram: Applicants must provide a diagram of the event's physical arrangement, which must clearly indicate the following items:
- The portion of the location grounds where the marijuana event will be held.
- All locations where cannabis is consumed.
- All retail locations where cannabis-related products will be sold.
- The precise location of each cannabis licensee attending the event. Each licensee will be given a temporary cannabis event location number.
- All entrances and exits that attendees will use throughout the event.
- The hours when cannabis products will be sold.
- All spaces designated for the storage of cannabis products.
- All areas designated for the storage of cannabis trash.
- Local approval jurisdiction: A written authorization from the local authority allowing the application to sell and permit the use of cannabis on-site to individuals 21 years of age or older at the event.
- List of licensees: A list of all employees and licensees who will be selling cannabis goods on-site during the event.
Applications for temporary event licenses may be withdrawn in the same way as applications for marijuana event organizer licenses. The written withdrawal request letter must contain the date and signature of at least one owner listed on the application. All owners listed on an application will also receive notifications with details pertaining to the required information if the DCC finds an application incomplete.
After the application is approved, the applicant will receive a license number. The applicant may not engage in any cannabis-related activity until the DCC issues the temporary marijuana event license.
Are there Local Regulations for Temporary Marijuana Event Licenses in California?
Yes, the DCC requires licensed cannabis event organizers to obtain written approval from the local jurisdiction authorizing on-site cannabis sales and consumption at cannabis events held by licenses. The venues where cannabis events are to be held must also be expressly approved by the local jurisdictions for temporary cannabis events.
Other local approvals and regulations may also apply depending on the locality where you intend to hold a temporary cannabis license. For instance, guidelines and approval procedures for hosting cannabis temporary events in the City of San Francisco may be found on the city government website. It is recommended that you contact the clerk or county office in your local area to verify the guidelines and approval procedures in place for licensed cannabis event organizers looking to hold temporary cannabis events.
What Is the Cost of a Marijuana Event Organizer License in California?
California law requires the cannabis licensing fees to cover DCC's costs to provide oversight for the industry and to be scaled so that larger businesses pay more. Application and license fees are based on the findings of economists who studied the cannabis industry in the state and recommended fee amounts.
Cannabis event licenses fees are based on the number of events the applicants plan to hold during the year. The license and application fees are:
|Number of Planned Cannabis Events
|5 or fewer
|6 - 10
|11 - 20
|More than 20
Temporary cannabis event licenses cost $1,000 per event. Marijuana event organizer licenses are renewable every year. The license renewal fee is based on the number of cannabis events the licensee plans to hold in the next year.
Can a Marijuana Event Organizer Licensee Apply for Other Cannabis Licenses in California?
According to the Department of Cannabis Control, a licensed cannabis event organizer may not hold any other type of cannabis license except for the temporary cannabis event license, which is mandatory.