The Bureau of Cannabis Control (Bureau) is the lead agency in regulating commercial cannabis licenses for medical and adult-use cannabis in California. The Bureau is responsible for licensing retailers, distributors, testing laboratories, microbusinesses, and temporary cannabis events. For information on the other two cannabis licensing authorities, please visit the websites of CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch.
See below for a timeline of significant state cannabis updates:
- 1996 – Voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) – which legalized the use of medicinal cannabis in California. Since the proposition was passed, most regulation was done by local governments.
- 2015 – The California State Legislature enacted three bills — AB 243 (Wood, Chapter 688); AB 266 (Bonta, Chapter 689); and SB 643 (McGuire, Chapter 719) — that collectively established a comprehensive state regulatory framework for the licensing and enforcement of cultivation, manufacturing, retail sale, transportation, storage, delivery and testing of medicinal cannabis in California. This regulatory scheme is known as the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA). MCRSA also established the state’s three cannabis licensing authorities.
- November 2016 – California voters approved Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). Under Proposition 64, adults 21 years of age or older can legally grow, possess, and use cannabis for non-medicinal purposes, with certain restrictions. Additionally, AUMA also made it legal to sell and distribute cannabis through a regulated business as of January 1, 2018.
- June 2017 – The California State Legislature passed a budget trailer bill, Senate Bill 94, that integrated MCRSA with AUMA to create the Medicinal and Adult‐Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). Under MAUCRSA, a single regulatory system governs the medical and adult-use cannabis industry in California.
- December 2017 – The Bureau adopted emergency cannabis regulations to clarify and make specific licensing and enforcement criteria for commercial cannabis businesses under the MAUCRSA. The Bureau readopted these regulations in June 2018, which remained in effect while the Bureau went through the formal rulemaking process to create non-emergency regulations.
- January 2018 – Temporary licenses issued by the Bureau for retailers, distributors, testing laboratories, microbusinesses, and event organizers went into effect and businesses began operating in California’s legal commercial cannabis market. More than 10,000 cannabis operators now hold state licenses in the largest cannabis market in the country.
- January 2019 – The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) officially approved state regulations for cannabis businesses across the supply chain from cultivation to retail. These new cannabis regulations took effect immediately after their approval, meaning the emergency regulations are no longer in effect.