Compliance & Regulations

Cannabis Laws in California Continue to Sprout and Grow

December 23, 2017 / By 3C Team

Updated April 25, 2018

Cannabis laws in California have been growing and evolving at a rapid fire and frenzied pace.  In 2017, you may have seen Cheech Marin’s public service announcement regarding the launch of Cannabizfile Online Cannabis Business Portal. Since then, it’s become the wild west throughout the state of California as cities and counties have either chosen to embrace cannabis businesses or to ban marijuana from their towns completely. Here are a few things cannabis entrepreneurs, business owners, clients, patients, and the public should know about location, construction, owner restrictions, local regulations, and security requirements for both existing and future cannabis businesses.

Cannabis Laws in California

Cannabis Business Location and Construction Requirements

Cannabis retail stores have limits on where they can be located and how they can present themselves. For example, all retail stores must be at least 600 feet from any K-12 school, day care center, or youth center.  What’s more, dispensaries are not allowed any type of window displays, and any interior displays must be hidden from the outside public.

Restrictions on Cannabis Business Owners

If you’re looking to own a cannabis business, you’ll need a few things. First, a $5,000 bond for all licensees and a requirement for mandatory insurance. Furthermore, licensees must submit a felony conviction criminal history as well as any co-relating rehabilitation statements before being granted a license to open your business. The license you receive, if you receive one, is not transferable to any other party — so be sure that you’re in this for the long haul.

Application of Local Regulations

Just as with alcohol and tobacco products, cities and counties can regulate retailers even further, beyond the requirements of cannabis laws in California. This means that each individual city and county has its own rules and regulations that you and your cannabis facility need to follow. According to the OC Register, as of April, 2108, less than a third of cities in California allow cannabis businesses of any type to operate within their borders. Similarly, only about one in three counties in California permit cannabis businesses in their unincorporated areas. For more information on which cities and counties are open to you starting a cannabis business, you will need to contact each city or county directly, or hire a cannabis consultant or a cannabis attorney who can help you navigate California’s commercial cannabis license framework

Security Requirements for Marijuana Businesses

As a measure to protect businesses and prevent crime, marijuana businesses and retailers are required to hire a third-party security organization to protect the premises. While this may seem to be a burden for entrepreneurs, it’s truly an important measure you must take to protect your business which may deal largely in cash. Also, you may have a large supply of marijuana, cannabis extract or another manufactured cannabis product in your facility. Regardless, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Just like insurance, hiring a solid security team will protect you, your employees and your business. 

Packaging Requirements for Marijuana Products

Cannabis products must be in opaque packaging, in child resistant containers and must contain a warning label along with a special symbol to signify that this product might be dangerous. Furthermore, to prevent children from eating a cannabis infused edible product, cartoon figures are prohibited on packaging.

While California’s budding cannabis laws are still being hashed out, knowing some of these initial regulations will give you some idea of what to expect as legislation continues to evolve.

Applying for a cannabis license is a very involved process that requires a great deal of time, patience and precision. There are specific items which need to be included in your application request. As there are many more application requests than there are licenses available in most cities, each application is scored and only the highest scoring applications will win licenses. You could try to apply for a license yourself, but often they are complicated and hundreds of pages long, including bios, business plans, background checks, banking information, etc.

3C has helped our clients win hundreds of licenses throughout the U.S. and 11 countries. Sometimes there are only 4 licenses available but time after time, our clients are awarded 1 out of those 4 licenses.

Are you considering starting a cannabis business in California?

If so, please contact us for expert guidance. We’re here to help ensure your business is compliant and structured properly to be scalable.


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