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Cannabis Business Readiness Guide: 4. State Licensing

Sonoma County Cannabis Program

As directed by the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act and the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the three state agencies listed below are responsible for issuing cannabis business related licenses.  

  • Note: in addition to state licensing requirements, local cannabis permits may be required for businesses.
  • Please see the information and links below to keep up to date with state licensing requirements.

CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing

Located within the California Department of Food and Agriculture, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing is responsible for licensing cultivatorsand implementing the Track-and-Trace System for plants from cultivation to sale.

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Bureau of Cannabis Control

Located within the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the Bureau of Cannabis Control issues licenses for distributors, dispensaries, transporters,andtesting laboratories.

 Phone (833) 768-5880

Office of Manufactured Cannabis Safety

Located within the Department of Public Health, the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch (MCSB) issues licenses for medical cannabis product manufacturers.

Phone:  (916) 558-1784

State Water Resources Board

The State Water Board is developing and implementing new regulatory programs to address potential water quality and quantity issues related to cannabis cultivation.

Track and Trace System

The California Cannabis Track-and-Trace (CCTT) system is being used statewide to record the inventory and movement of cannabis and cannabis products through the commercial cannabis supply chain. This system must be used by all annual and provisional cannabis licensees, including those with licenses for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, retail, distribution, testing labs, and microbusinesses. For more information, please see Five Steps for Using the Track-and-Trace System(Leer en español) and the new second edition of the Frequently Asked Questions About the Track-and-Trace System document.

General Information and Links

Read an overview of the California Department of Consumer Affairs Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) State Agency Responsibilities.


What is a provisional cannabis cultivation license?

  • On September 27, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1459, which allows the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to create a new “provisional” cannabis cultivation license as a bridge between temporary and annual cultivation licenses, effective immediately. A provisional license acts in the same manner as an annual license, except it is not renewable, as required in Business and Professions Code section 26050.5 of the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 26050.2 et seq.) CDFA’s authority to issue the provisional licenses remains in effect until January 1, 2020.

Is there an application for a provisional cannabis cultivation license?

How do I qualify for a provisional cannabis cultivation license?

  • To qualify for a provisional commercial cannabis cultivation license, the applicant must satisfy the following requirements:

1. Hold—or have held—a temporary cannabis cultivation license for the same premises
and the same commercial cannabis activity for which the provisional license will be

2. Pay the application fee for the associated license type; and

3. Submit a completed state annual cultivation license application (all applicable requirements pursuant to California Code of Regulations section 8102 still apply) including evidence that compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is underway.

After the annual cannabis cultivation license application has been submitted—and if there is no basis for denial—CDFA will determine whether the applicant will receive a provisional license or an annual license. This determination will be based on the evidence of exemption from, or compliance with, CEQA, as provided by the applicant in the application. If the applicant can provide evidence that CEQA compliance is underway, then CDFA may issue a provisional license. (CDFA’s refusal to issue a provisional license does not entitle the applicant
to appeal the decision.)

How does CDFA assess whether a provisional cannabis cultivation license may be issued?

  • Here is a step-by-step guide to qualifying for a provisional cannabis cultivation license: 
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I am currently operating under the Penalty Relief Program and despite having submitted my annual license application both in advance of the State deadline and my temporary license expiring, my provisional license application has not yet been processed. Am I at risk of losing my Penalty Relief status?

  • Senate Bill 67, introduced by Senator McGuire as an urgency statute, seeks to alleviate the immediate danger confronting the cannabis industry by authorizing the revalidation of an expired temporary license if the licensee submitted an application for an annual or provisional state license before the licensee’s temporary license expiration date.
  • Although the timeline for passing SB 67 would not help those whose licenses have already expired or are expected to expire this spring, the bill’s proposal to “revalidate an expired temporary license” could allow those who had to stop legal operations to restart once SB 67 has passed. Senator McGuire has stated that “he hopes enforcement against businesses operating in good faith will be put on hold until SB 67 can make it through the Legislature, and that licenses can be updated retroactively, so law-abiding companies aren’t unduly penalized.”
  • Based on these statements from Senator McGuire and direction from the Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee, Sonoma County will not be enforcing on applicants compliant with the local Penalty Relief Program whose temporary state licenses have expired while awaiting issuance of a provisional state license.

What happens once a provisional cannabis cultivation license has been issued?

  • A provisional license is valid for 12 months from the date issued and shall not be renewed and revocation or suspension of a provisional cannabis cultivation license does not entitle a provisional licensee to appeal the decision.
  • Once the provisional license has been issued, the licensee must comply with all licensing requirements, including the following:
    • Pay all applicable application and license fees;
    • Adhere to all California Cannabis Track-and-Trace requirements, pursuant to Article 5 of the California Code of Regulations, title 3, division 8, chapter 1 (commencing with section 8400); and
    • Submit an annual cannabis cultivation application—and receive approval for an annual license—prior to the expiration of the provisional license, if the licensee wants to continue to operate after the provisional license has expired.

Is information from the temporary cannabis cultivation license needed for the annual license application?

  • Yes. To transition from a temporary license to a provisional license, the annual license application must be for the exact same site and activity (for example, any flowering type to any flowering type, nursery to nursery, processor to processor). CDFA will verify that this information is included and accurate on the annual application; for example, CDFA might compare the Assessor Parcel Numbers (APNs), which are unique numbers assigned to each parcel of land by a county tax assessor, or, if the application is in an area where APNs have been changing due to county activity, CDFA might match latitude and longitude coordinates for the parcel.

Do I have to have a temporary license to apply for an annual (not a provisional) cannabis cultivation license?

  • No. While you need to have—or have had at one time—a temporary license to qualify for provisional license, you can apply for an annual license regardless of whether you have ever had a temporary license.

Who can I call or write to if I have more questions?

  • For additional details about temporary, provisional, and annual commercial cannabis cultivation licenses, please contact CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division by calling toll-free 1-833-CALGROW (1-833-225-4769) or sending an email to: Also visit the CalCannabis website for step-by-step guides and videos on the state’s cultivation licensing application process, including information on the California Cannabis Track-and-Trace system: