Bureau of Marijuana Control


In 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law multiple bills that created an initial regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry. These new laws formed a new entity within the California Department of Consumer Affairs known as the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation. In coordination with the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation would be responsible for licensing marijuana businesses, including those for distribution, transportation, testing, and sales. Licensing for cultivation and manufacturing are to be handled by the CDFA and CDPH, respectively.

Since its formation, the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation has gone through a number of evolutions, including being renamed the Bureau of Marijuana Control (BMC). It has continued to publish proposed rules for the medical marijuana industry, and since recreational marijuana was legalized by the passing of Prop 64 in November 2016, the organization has begun to advance rules for recreational cannabis as well.

If you currently work in the cannabis industry or wish to start a marijuana-related business, contact an experienced cannabis lawyer from McElfresh Law at (858) 756-7107.

Attorney Jessica McElfresh has been involved with the ever-changing medical marijuana industry for years and has a great deal of experience helping individuals navigate the muddy waters of California cannabis law. She can advise you on how to move forward with a new business ensuring you remain compliant with state and local laws or represent you in regard to current legal trouble.

Free consultation for criminal defense cases only. Cannabis business consultation requires a fee.

The BMC’s Purpose

The BMC’s purpose is to establish appropriate regulations for the state’s medical marijuana industry, including rules for growing, testing, transporting, and selling marijuana. It has published proposed text on distributor, transporter, and dispensary licensing, medical marijuana regulations, and laboratory testing regulations. In time, the BMC will begin issuing licenses to medical marijuana businesses under its purview. It will also be responsible for the seed-to-sale tracking system provided for in Prop 64.

The BMC’s Jurisdiction

If you are involved in the state’s marijuana industry, you may wonder if the BMC’s proposed rules apply to you or whether you should look toward another department for guidance. The BMC covers:

  • Dispensaries
  • Distributors
  • Transporters
  • Testing laboratories

If your business fits into one of these categories, you will want to watch the BMC closely as it has the power to propose and formalize regulations that could greatly affect your business. If you are involved with another type of marijuana-related venture, then you may need to review how the CDFA or CDPH affects your licensing and business. However, the BMC’s regulations may impact you as well and should not be ignored.

Licensing Under the BMC

The BMC is not issuing state medical marijuana business licenses yet. You must currently rely on obtaining the appropriate local licenses. Beginning in 2018, the BMC will begin to take applications for medical marijuana business licenses. The organization will give priority to license applications for businesses that have been in operation and good standing with their local governments since Jan. 1, 2016. Medical marijuana businesses formed later may take longer to receive their licenses, and operations not in compliance with their local jurisdiction may have a state license denied. For example, a medical marijuana dispensary operating in a county that has prohibited medical marijuana retail stores will not be granted a state license.

A license granted by the BMC will not take the place of a local license. California created a dual licensing system. As a medical marijuana business owner, you will need to comply with all state and local regulations, including having up-to-date licenses, permits, and authorizations from the state and your local jurisdiction.

Licensing for Medical versus Recreational Marijuana Businesses

A license for a medical marijuana business will not be the same for a recreational marijuana business. For instance, if you run a medical marijuana dispensary, your license will be for medical marijuana only and not for recreational cannabis. You must seek to obtain a recreational marijuana dispensary license to sell non-medical marijuana and related products to consumers without medical cards. The regulatory and licensing requirements for recreational marijuana are not completed yet. However, you can expect recreational licensing to be a similar process as what is being created for medical marijuana business licenses.

Do I Need a License From the BMC?

There are key exceptions to who is required to obtain a medical marijuana business license. Medical cannabis patients and primary caregivers may not need a state license if they remain compliant with all regulations. A patient can grow, possess, process, and transport medical marijuana for their own use. A primary caregiver can have five or fewer medical cannabis patients without obtaining a license. If you do not fit into one of these two categories, then you need your local license and permits to operate a medical marijuana business and will need to apply for a state license.

Contact a San Diego Medical Marijuana Lawyer for Help

If you currently have a medical marijuana business or are planning a new venture, you will need an experienced medical marijuana lawyer to guide you through the compliance process. Ensuring you choose a lawful location, obtain local permits and licenses, pay any required fees, and are ready to apply for a state license takes time and knowledge of the current medical marijuana regulatory system.

Attorney Jessica McElfresh has years of experience working within California’s medical marijuana industry and keeps up with local and state developments. She can help you remain compliant with the law for your current business, represent you against legal issues, and prepare your application for a state license. For more information on how San Diego marijuana lawyer Jessica McElfresh can help you, call today at (858) 756-7107 to schedule a consultation.

This website is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Free consultation for criminal defense cases only. Cannabis business consultation requires a fee.