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If you are thinking about starting a cannabis business, it is imperative to take all of the necessary steps in order to make sure you are following all California laws and guidelines. One such important step is to plan for and be ready to apply for a local commercial cannabis authorization, license, or permit. Without the proper paperwork and necessary permission from the municipality, you will not be able to fully realize your dream of operating a commercial cannabis business, at any level; so it’s best to do your research and get the help you need.

The passage of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act in California in 2016 brought about many changes in how cannabis businesses can operate. For example, each municipality has the control to dictate cannabis rules and regulations. In essence, each municipality now has “local control”, which means that every city, town, and county can enact their own cannabis ordinances as they see fit. They can choose how many and what type of licenses they will issue. They can allow commercial cannabis businesses, or they can choose to make sure that none come into their municipality. They can create specific rules surrounding cannabis production and distribution, such as whether or not indoor/outdoor cultivation will be allowed. They can even dictate whether or not delivery services or brick and mortar storefronts will be permitted.


Many cities amended time limits and restrictions on the application submission process, shortening the length of time given to actually apply for the license. Some have also restructured zoning laws to accommodate the new act, effectively reducing the availability of properly zoned land or of landowners who are amenable to marijuana cultivation.

Think about it for a minute; there are 482 incorporated cities in the state of California, and 58 counties. Each one of these can now have their own set of rules and regulations pertaining to the cultivation, production, and distribution of cannabis. Due to the broad and sweeping nature of this new situation residents of California find themselves in, it is crucial to figure out what applies to you, in your county, city, or town.

Our team of professionals are working hard to compile a list of allowable cities and counties throughout California. Because we have a client list from all over the state, it is quite possible that we are already familiar with the requirements in your area.

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If you are interested in obtaining a local permit, authorization, or license for your canna business, there are a number of steps you can take in order to work towards achieving your goals.

  • Create a Plan- A famous French quote goes A goal without a plan is just a wish”. In the world of business, plans are important. In fact, some might say they are the necessary component of any successful venture. Before you get out there, organize your ideas and goals into a logical outline. Document your questions. Start a journal for every time you develop a question and are not 110% sure of the answer. This is where our team can come in and save you time and money. We know the requirements and the ever-changing nature of local government. Because this is all new regulatory system for California and local municipalities, there are bound to be complications and things that can make you very confused. Being able to sit down and systematically work through every step it takes to obtain a local cannabis license can make all the difference.
  • Find the facts –In order for you to be successful during the planning stage of the application process, you must have a solid and fact-based understanding of what you need to do. With so much misinformation and disinformation online and spread by word-of-mouth this step can be tough. As they say, knowledge is power. In this case, knowledge is vital. Become familiar with your local government in relation to cannabis regulations. Use online resources published by the municipality to learn about current local regulations. Attend city council meetings. Visit your local municipal offices and learn about requirements for planning and zoning departments, code enforcement, fire etc. Local ordinances passed by the city council of incorporated cities or the board of supervisors for unincorporated areas of the county will determine what uses are allowed by that municipality. Ordinances must be made public and most are available online. The more you know, the easier the process will be.
  • Check List- The best way to be prepared for local applications is to create a checklist of all outstanding requirements. Pretend that you are filing for a commercial cannabis license in your local municipality. After doing your research at a local and state level, you are one step closer to being ready to apply. In essence, rehearse. Make a checklist of all the requirements, as well as all of the steps you need to take in order to complete the application process successfully. Create a folder will all of the sections you will need and fill them accordingly. Categorize everything so that you have all of the information that you need at your fingertips. Procure and fill out the paperwork, as if you were actually applying, taking care to read the technical language accordingly.
  • Call in the Reinforcements- Although you may feel like you have it all under control, there are many many small details that you might miss which could, in the end, lead to rejection. With the competitive nature of cannabis licensing you may only have one shot at obtaining the license. In this situation, take all of the help you can get. This is where we, at Start Your Collective, come in. We can help you to organize a team capable of meeting the local requirements. Whether it’s an architect, accountant, security professional, real estate agent or application writer we can get you the help you need. Either piece by piece or as a one-stop shop. Why let this process confuse you? Call us today. We can help.

So, what happens when you apply for a commercial cannabis permit or license in the state of California? When you submit an application, the state will contact your local municipality to find out if your business is in compliance with their local regulations. If the answer is “No”, the application will be denied. If the answer is “Yes”, then the application will be submitted.

Requirement for commercial cannabis licensing varies from city to city, county to county. Most cities require the following, although all of these are subject to change at any time;

  • Site plan and floor plan drafted by certified architect
  • Security plan
  • Operations plan and/or Standard Operating Procedures
  • Financial projections- Sometimes up to 3 years. Preferably prepared by a Certified Public Accountant
  • Proof of financials- The municipality might want to see you have enough money in the bank to cover operations for the first 3-6 months
  • Approved Real Estate- “Greenzone” or properly zoned location
  • Corporation or LLC, Sellers Permit, EIN, membership agreement

Now, here’s the tricky part; if the local municipality does not respond within the 90-day time period, the state shall become the sole licensing authority, which is a good thing. But, if the local government at any time after those 90 days reports your business to be in violation of their local regulations, your license will be revoked immediately. This is the main reason why obtaining a local license is so important. It is imperative to get your local government on board first. Although a local license is not technically required in order to apply to the state, ultimately, it is the local municipality who has the power to make or break your business.


So, how can you find out if your local city or county is issuing licenses? Here at Start Your Collective. We have our finger on the pulse of cannabis licensing in the state of California and can help you take every necessary step in order to empower yourself and your business. Sometimes, even city and county employees can be misinformed or incorrect about their own regulations; so, at the very least ask for a second opinion from someone else familiar with the ordinance.  We work hard to obtain your commercial cannabis license so that you can concentrate on all of the other steps it will take to own, operate, and grow your business.


Give us a call today. We are ready to help you obtain local and state cannabis licenses.