Transitioning Your Temporary Cannabis License to an Annual License in California

Last Updated on

To get its state sanctioned cannabis industry started on time, the three agencies that collectively oversee the 26 licenses available for commercial cannabis activity in California allowed over a thousand existing businesses to take a shortcut which they called a Temporary License, almost all of which are due to expire real soon unless they apply for, and ultimately receive, their Annual License.

The real power in the overall cannabis license process lays at the local level since the state has to defer to the voters or the leadership of each city and county with regard to their unincorporated areas to make the hard, “not in my backyard” political calls such as:

  1. whether or not cannabis activity can take place at all, and if so
  2. which types of activities will they permit and under which tax or fee structures,
  3. where within their borders via zoning and land use determination,
  4. how many of each type they will permit to open, and
  5. how a merit scoring system, if used, will be set up and administered.

Recognizing this fact, if you could get a local government to approve your cannabis business’ location in early 2018 or before, a Temporary License was pretty much yours for the asking.  It has not been easy sailing for anyone, but at least they could open.

But now the real work begins.

Between setting your operation to comply with security, product safety and the nation’s most stringent and as yet truly defined testing requirements, you also have this project known as an Annual License application to deal with, like a term paper waiting at the end of the semester.

Well, it’s finals week and your paper will be graded very harshly. You now have to pass the same test that newcomers to the cannabis party have to deal with to keep operating.

Just a quick visual comparison of the Temporary Application and the Annual Application for Retailers reveals quite a few more bullet points to be reckoned with by your organization. Section I (shown below) doesn’t look that bad, just 16 check boxes need to be addressed, but in reality – you may need a team of experts to fully comprehend the meaning of these items and to properly answer them to the state’s satisfaction.  To get through the CDFA’s Cultivation Application, you need to round up water, land use, environmental and many more experts to make it across their finish line.

Cannabis dispensary license

Who Do You Ask For Help?

Since most pre-legalization operators were part of the movement themselves and often concerned or intertwined with the criminality of the cannabis, lawyers have been the traditional professional to whom you have and will turn.  There is without a doubt plenty of laws with which you should be concerned but the agencies’ applications are far more about zoning, land use, operational and business orientated then most lawyers aptitude and experience supports.

You need to assemble a team of professionals who work together, complimenting each other’s skill sets to compile a robust application package that the State recognizes from the pile as special and worthy of a quick review and approval.  You want to give them the chance to say YES and add one more the most watched licensing process in the history of United States commerce.

In the absence of someone acting as the project manager between all the professionals and trades, you will have to fill that role keeping your supporting cast on time and in line. For some that challenge, especially in a world where the rules can change from one day to the next, can prove to0 much to bear.

To counteract this helpless feeling, at BeGreenLegal, we have assembled a multi-faceted group of experts, including professionals with Doctorate and Masters level degrees in subjects ranging from Urban Planning and Land Use, Architecture, Law, Biology, Environmental Studies, Business Administration, Engineering, Design and more. We combine this subject matter experience with an extraordinary amount of project and account management to make our clients feel like we are part of their team, rowing together down this choppy river.

No matter where you are in the process, our team is here to help you and your team get its golden ticket, a California Annual Cannabis license.


It’s nice to meet you, and we are here to make your team that much stronger. Our group of experts has extensive experience as a subcontractor for other professionals and is happy to step in and lend a hand to you and your clients.


With offices throughout California, Begreenlegal Consulting is here to help you find a location and apply for your local permits and state cannabis licenses all while providing expert cannabis business strategy including help with vendor selection. We have resources who will design your store layout as well as help in the hiring and training of your staff all with a focus on compliance with all regulations.  Just reach out for a consultation to get started.


Chris Cahill, a Michigan State Bar member and MBA since 1995, has helped hundreds of small and mid-sized business owners grow and manage their operations, including multi-state cannabis operators and suppliers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *