Medical (1996)
Decriminalized (2010)
Recreational (2016)

Current Status

Governor Jerry Brown signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) into law on October 9, 2015. This Act is made up of three separate bills: AB 266, AB 243 and SB 643.

MCRSA establishes a framework for future medical marijuana regulations and a statewide licensing program for growing, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, testing, and retail dispensing of medical marijuana.

State licenses are not currently available. However, existing businesses who demonstrate current compliance with their local jurisdictions will be allowed to continue to operate during license application review, likely in 2018.

If your business is ‘in compliance with local zoning ordinances and other state and local requirements on or before January 1, 2018,’ it may continue to operate until licenses are established. (MCRSA)

Medical Marijuana

At the state level, MCRSA establishes the legislative framework for state licenses, but California agencies still need to develop regulations to actually implement the law.
January 2016: priority registration to demonstrate local compliance
If your business is demonstrably “in operation and in good standing with [its] local jurisdiction by January 1, 2016” (AB 266, 19321), it will receive “priority” treatment during license applications.
Note: “priority” is not defined. Even though this date has passed, establishing compliance remains important.
September 2016: priority registration under AUMA.

Patient Registry or ID Cards Program?
Yes, voluntary


Cannabis Grow Limit:
Adults over the age of 21 may cultivate up to six (6) plants per residency. Medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers may cultivate up to six (6) mature cannabis plants, or up to twelve (12) immature cannabis plants. With the recommendation of a physician, medical marijuana patients may be permitted to grow a greater amount per the patient’s needs. (Prop 64)

Cannabis Possession Limit:
Adults over the age of 21 may possess a combination of the following: 28.5 ounces of usable marijuana 8 grams of cannabis concentrate *Note: Adult-use consumers are limited to purchasing 8 ounces per day. (Prop 64)

This license is for entities that wish to grow medical marijuana plants from seed or clone, to flower and finish. Growers wishing to provide clones, but who do not intend to flower or finish plants, may apply for a specialty nursery license.

To apply to grow cannabis in California, you will need to select a license based on your grow size and lighting source:

Tier 1: Specialty
• License 1: Specialty Outdoor. Up to 5,000 sq ft of canopy OR up to 50 mature plants on non-contiguous plots.
• License 1A: Specialty Indoor. Up to 5,000 sq ft using exclusively artificial lighting.
• License 1B: Specialty Mixed-Light. Up to 5,000 sq ft using a combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting.

Tier 2: Small
• License 2: Small Outdoor. Between 5,001 and 10,000 sq ft of canopy.
• License 2A: Small Indoor. Between 5,001 and 10,000 sq ft of canopy using exclusively artificial lighting.
• License 2B: Small Mixed-Light. Between 5,001 and 10,000 sq ft of canopy using a combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting.

Tier 3: These licenses are limited in their access to vertical integration.
• License 3: Outdoor. Between 10,001 sq ft to one acre of canopy.
• License 3A: Indoor. Between 10,001 sq ft to one acre of canopy using exclusively artificial lighting.
• License 3B: Mixed Light. Between 10,001 sq ft to one acre of canopy using a combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting.

License 4: Nursery.


Yes; pending city/county ruling

Processor licenses are sub-divided into two categories based on the types of solvent being used. The license allows business entities to process raw medical marijuana plant matter into a variety of medicinal products.

License 6: Manufacturer 1. Not using volatile solvents.
Legislators have stated License 6 was not intended for use by edibles manufacturers. This may be subject to cleanup language.

License 7: Manufacturer 2. Using volatile solvents.


Yes; pending city/county ruling

License 8: Tester License
Laboratories intending to test medical marijuana products for quality and potency will be required to apply for a tester license.


Yes (many); pending city/county ruling

License 11: this is the allowance of distribution of cannabis product.
All distributors must also apply for a Transporter License.

Businesses that intend to retail medical cannabis to qualifying patients will require a dispensing license

License 10: one retail location

License 10A: up to three retail locations and the potential for full vertical integration

MMRSA requires that—while business agreements can be made directly between any licensed entities—a third-party distributor be responsible for overseeing and officially conducting any business transaction that occurs. Distributors are required track all products received, and to have them tested for quality.


A type of license for a business intending to transport medical marijuana from one licensed facility to another.
This is License type 12.

California became the 1st state to legalize medical marijuana on November 5, 1996.

Important Cannabis Laws

Proposition 215 (1996) : The Compassionate Use Act : exempts patients and defined caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by a physician from criminal laws which otherwise prohibit possession or cultivation of marijuana.

SB 420 (2003) : clarified the scope and application of California Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, and established the California medical marijuana program.

MMRSA (2015) : Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act // MMRSA
AB 266 : establishes a new Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation under the Department of Consumer Affairs. The Bureau will establish a comprehensive internet system for keeping track of licensees and reporting the movement of commercial cannabis and cannabis products.
AB 243 : is focused primarily on cultivation and how growing weed effects the environment. It is full of a lot of regulatory schemes aimed at ensuring growers are compliant and not negatively impacting wildlife habitats and water resources. It also further establishes and defines the tracking program and the new powers granted to the Department of Food and Agriculture to regulate cultivation.
SB 643 :establishes criteria for licensing of medical marijuana businesses, regulates physicians, and recognizes local authority to levy taxes and fees

Proposition 64 (2016) : Adult Use of Marijuana Act // AUMA : allowed for the legal recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 years +

SB 94 (2017) : Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act // “MAUCRSA”