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State Regulations

In 2015, the Governor signed into law a package of bills now known as the Medical Cannabis Regulations Safety Act (MCRSA) which created a licensing and regulatory framework for medical cannabis. It is anticipated that the regulations will be in place by January 1, 2018.

MCRSA provides for licenses to be issued by three licensing authorities: the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and California Department of Public Health (CDPH), with BMCR serving as the lead agency.

For updates on state regulations on specific marijuana-related businesses, please check the following state agency websites:

BMCR - For questions related to dispensaries, distributors, testing laboratories and distributors.

CalCannabis (Formerly the Medical Cannabis Cultivation Program and Marijuana Cultivation Program, or MCCP) – For questions related to cultivation and track-and-trace.

CDPH - For questions related to manufacturers.

Proposed regulations for medical cultivation, distribution, transport, manufacturing, testing laboratories regulations for medical cannabis are now available for review. The 45-day public comment period is now underway. The proposed regulations for Adult Use of Marijuana Act are expected to be available in late Fall of 2017.

Key Similarities and Differences Between MCRSA and AUMA/Prop 64


  • Regulates Medical Marijuana
  • Local governments may allow, regulate, or prohibit commercial businesses within their jurisdictions
  • Requires doctor’s recommendation to possess, use, or cultivate marijuana.
  • Medical marijuana is not authorized for commercial sale without a State business license. However, patients and caregivers may obtain medical marijuana at an existing Sacramento dispensary, if they are members of the collective/cooperative that operates it.
  • Authorizes local governments to impose excise taxes
  • Proof of dual licensing required. A license, permit, or other authorization from the local jurisdiction is required to apply for a State license for a commercial business.*
  • State will start ACCEPTING license applications for commercial businesses on January 1, 2018
  • No California residency requirement to obtain State licenses

*Read more about MCRSA.


  • Regulates Non-Medical Marijuana*
  • Local governments may allow, regulate, or prohibit commercial businesses within their jurisdictions, but cannot ban indoor private/personal cultivation
  • Does not require doctor’s recommendation to possess, use or cultivate marijuana, but you must be 21 years of age or older.
  • Non-medical marijuana is not authorized for sale without a State business license.
  • Imposes state taxes on the purchase and cultivation marijuana
  • Proof of dual licensing not required. However, the State is prohibited from issuing a license for a commercial business that violates local ordinances.
  • State will start ISSUING licenses for commercial businesses on January 1, 2018
  • Until 2020, California residency from or before Jan 1, 2015 is required to obtain State licenses (if an applicant is an entity, it must have a controlling person with residency)

*Read full text of Prop. 64.