Distribution & Retail Licensing


Find a Location

Deciding where to take your distribution or retail business is a big decision that needs serious consideration. Which license type do you need? How much space is needed for your business? What zoning accommodates your license type? Is it an open application process or a competitive one? What is the cannabis tax structure in this area?

Please consider reviewing the BCC regulations on your own but on a very basic level, there are several license types that cover commercial cannabis businesses:

  • Distribution

    • for transport and delivery of cannabis and cannabis products between licensees.

  • Retail - Storefront

    • Adult and Medical use brick and mortar shops.

  • Retail - Non-Storefront

    • Adult and medicinal use delivery-only shops, no physical building for customers to come to.

  • Microbusiness

    • for licensees who are engaged in at least three of the following: cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and retail sale.

The state has allowed municipalities to create their own structure regarding commercial cannabis businesses meaning you may need to fit into more specific rules than just state cultivation regulations. We would recommend starting at a macro level (counties/cities of interest) and working your way through the rules to find a suitable location to negotiate a lease and call home.

apply to municipality

So you have decided on a location whose licensing structure fits your business goals, you have even found an address that is perfectly zoned and ready to welcome you. Now, you have to impress the municipality to gain their acceptance before securing your state license. Obviously, the regulations at the city and county level are diverse and specific to that location; however, we do see some similarities across the state. At the municipal level, governments are interested in your comprehensive business plan and how you will contribute to the community as a whole. Many are even implementing equity programs that further ensures commercial cannabis businesses are invested in local history and future prosperity. In places that have a limit on the licenses they release, they are choosing companies that have given this process some thought and will be there for the long haul. Once you have done the leg-work of finding a location that would be a mutual fit, we can’t emphasize enough the assistance of an attorney to make sure your application is complete, competitive and attractive to the place you are applying.

apply to state

Cultivation is regulated by the California Department of Public Health. The state issues temporary licenses to well prepared candidates that are valid for 120 days after issuance. This 120 days allows the applicant to further prepare for their state annual license which requires more documentation and precise diagraming. In addition to city or county sign-off, the state is interested in seeing your cultivation plan in its entirety, your commitment to future sustainability and your preparedness for the track and trace system. State licensing is about having your ducks in a row and it is another instance where we would recommend the assistance of an attorney.