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Where Can You Locate a Cannabis Dispensary in California?

Cropped image of female barista working at dispensary and using cash register when accepting payment or entering order details

Although the distribution of cannabis for recreational use has been legalized in California, the industry is subject to a host of strict, complex, and interlocking rules and regulations. Rules at the federal, state, county, and municipal (city/town) levels affect whether, where, and how cannabis business can be conducted. In order to establish a cannabis dispensary in California, a proprietor must obtain all appropriate licenses at the local and state levels, as well as comply with zoning regulations and other requirements. To learn about where you can establish a cannabis dispensary in California, read on. For help building your marijuana enterprise, call a savvy cannabis business attorney for advice and representation.

State License Requirements

To open a dispensary, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate state license. To open a storefront, you’ll need to obtain a storefront retailer, or Type 10, license. If you intend to operate on a delivery-only basis without a storefront, you can obtain a non-storefront retailer license, a Type 9.

County and City Requirements

Once you have the appropriate state license, you’ll need to apply for a license to operate a dispensary in your locale. For unincorporated county property, you’ll need to follow the rules of the county. If you intend to locate your dispensary within a town or city, you’ll need to follow the municipal rules. Municipalities incorporated within a county can choose whether to comply with the same rules as the county or enact their own restrictions.

Every county and city can decide whether to license any cannabis businesses within their territory. They can choose whether to permit all cannabis activities, license only certain cannabis activities and prohibit others (such as permitting dispensaries but not manufacturing), or prohibit all cannabis licensing within the territory. Even counties and cities that permit dispensaries or other activities often limit the number of licenses they are willing to issue so that only a limited number of dispensaries can be operating at any given time.

For example, Los Angeles County allows for the cultivation, manufacturing, and retail sale of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use. However, the City of Glendale prohibits all cannabis businesses within city limits. Residents cannot purchase cannabis from a dispensary or even get delivery within the city. The City of Santa Monica allows for medicinal cannabis retail, but not recreational sale, and is only issuing two medicinal dispensary licenses at any given time. Both have now been issued. The City of Los Angeles permits dispensaries for both medicinal and recreational use of cannabis. Where those dispensaries may be located is limited by municipal zoning codes.

Currently, just under half of CA counties and cities permit the licensing of at least one type of cannabis business. The bottom line: If you hope to establish a cannabis dispensary, discuss your plans with a cannabis business lawyer. Your attorney can help you figure out your options, including where you can set up shop and the type of business you can reasonably plan to run in the locale of your choice.

Call a Seasoned and Comprehensive California Cannabis Business Lawyer for Help With Your Marijuana Business

If you are interested in establishing a cannabis dispensary in California, or if you are dealing with regulatory, licensing, or other legal issues with your hemp, CBD, or cannabis business in Los Angeles or Southern California, call McReynolds Vardanyan, LLP, in Glendale at 818-855-2115. Our California cannabis business lawyers will work with you to get your budding business off the ground efficiently, effectively, and legally.

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