11 Tips To Getting Your State Manufacturing License


Cannabis regulations in the state of California are in full swing. If the regulations have you feeling more confused than settled—you’re not alone. Things are changing at an all time rapid pace. If you’re interested in learning more on how to obtain a state license for a manufacturing facility, look no further. We’ve comprised a list of important tips, summarized info and links to help you take those first steps toward licensure.


Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch is the Department of Public Health:

The state department in charge of issuing manufacturing licenses is the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch (MCSB), a sub-division of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). They’re in charge of the regulation of all commercial cannabis manufacturing in California, including all edibles, oils, tinctures, topicals etc. They basically manage all products that aren’t flower. The goal of this branch is to ensure that all cannabis products are produced free of contaminants, meet product guidelines and are properly packaged and labeled.


Manufacturing is the second part of the cannabis supply chain:

The supply chain goes as follows: Cultivation à Manufacturing à Distribution à Testing à Retail à Microbusiness. As in our previous post, CalCannabis is a branch of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which controls the cultivation portion of the cannabis supply chain. The California Department of Public Health has also added a new department called the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch, which controls all aspects of manufacturing (as stated above). Lastly, the California Department of Consumer Affairs created a new branch to manage distribution, testing, retail and microbusinesses, called the Bureau of Cannabis Control.



Check the Bureau’s website frequently:

If you feel like you can’t keep up with the ever-changing cannabis laws, you’re not alone. Stay up-to-date by checking the Bureau’s website daily. From new application availability to regulation changes to printable versions of the MAUCRSA, everything is available on their site. You can also sign up for the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch email list by sending an email to listserv@maillist.dhs.ca.gov with subscribe MCSB in the body of your message, not the subject line. For general manufacturing license questions you can send an email to: mcsb@cdph.ca.gov.


Temporary License Applications are now being accepted:

The Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch (MCSB) is officially issuing temporary licenses that allow a business to engage in commercial cannabis activity. Once issued, the licenses are valid for 120-days and may be extended for additional periods of 90-days—but only if the business has submitted a complete annual license application, too. In other words, you can’t keep reapplying for temporary license extensions. City or county authorization to conduct commercial cannabis activity must be submitted with the temporary license application. Once the application is received, CDPH will contact the city or county to verify the local authorization. The city office will have 10 days to respond, confirming that the business is authorized to operate in the city or county. You can download the temporary license application here.


What’s needed for the manufacturing application?:

·         Section A: You’ll need to define your license type by specifying whether you’ll manufacture cannabis products for medicinal, adult-use or both markets; and if you’ll need a license for extraction: volatile solvents, extraction: non-volatile solvents, mechanical methods; infusions; or packaging and labling only.

·         Section B: Asks for information on the person who is completing and signing the application on behalf of the business. This person, then, should be the one receiving the licensing information, is authorized to make decisions and who’ll speak with MCSB about the application on behalf of the business.

·         Section C: This section asks for all the manufacturing business info, such as the:

o   Legal Business Name – The name that the business has registered with the California Secretary of State

o   Trade Name – The name that the business uses for public operations

o   Federal EIN – The Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or EIN) is a number issued by the IRS for identification and employment tax reporting, where applicable. If you are a sole proprietor, you may enter your social security number in this section.

o   Mailing Address – The business’ mailing address, where the license form and other important documents can be sent.

·         Section D: Asks for information regarding the premises of where the business will conduct commercial-cannabis manufacturing activity. To avoid delays, be sure to use the actual physical address where the facility is located.

·         Section E: Looks at the type of manufacturing activities the business will be conducting on the premises the type of products that are made on site. You’ll have to determine whether what you’re doing is for medical or adult-use (or both), if your business plans to perform any extractions and what products you’ll make (edibles, tinctures, vapes, concentrates, etc)

·         Section F: Will ask you for local authorization. To avoid delays, provide contact information for the local city or county office where you received your local authorization.

Annual License Application:

Applications for annual licenses will be accepted through an online licensing system called the Manufactured Cannabis Licensing System (MCLS). Like the temporary license, this application will require information on the business, owners, financial interest holders, operating premises; and descriptions of the procedures for waste disposal, inventory, quality control, transportation and security. Businesses in operation under the Compassionate Use Act prior to September 1, 2016, will receive priority application review. Applicants must be in compliance with city or county ordinances. During the application review process, CDPH will contact the city or county to verify the local authorization. If the applicant does not provide a copy of their local authorization, the local office will have 60 days to respond. If the applicant includes a copy of their local authorization with their application, the local office will have 10 days to respond. Here is a checklist that will help you in the application process.


Medicinal vs. Adult-use THC limits:

Everyone must abide by the new THC limits, in which manufacturers will be held responsible for. Edibles are required to be limited to 10 milligrams per serving and 100 milligrams per package. Other products, including tinctures, are limited to 1000 milligrams of THC per package for adult-use and 2,000 milligrams per package for medical.


There are new packaging requirements:

·         Cannabis-product packages can’t resemble traditional food packaging

·         Edibles must be in opaque packaging

·         Every product must be packaged before it’s released to distributor

·         Every product must be tamper evident and child resistant

·         If there are multiple servings, the package must be re-sealable.


Labeling requirements:

·         The primary panel must include product identity, THC content and universal cannabis signal.

·         The information panel must include list of ingredients and a warning statement

·         No product can refer to itself as “candy”

·         No product can be attractive to children.


Live Scans:

To complete the annual license application you’ll need to submit Live Scan fingerprints for each person who meets the definition of “owner,” which is defined as:

1)     A person with an aggregate ownership interest of twenty percent or more in the person applying for a license or a licensee, unless the interest is solely a security, lien, encumbrance.

2)     The CEO of a nonprofit or other entity.

3)     A member of a nonprofit’s board of directors.

4)     An individual who will be participating in the direction, control, or management of the commercial cannabis business.


The MCSB is currently finalizing the information needed for this process and will post the required "Request for Live Scan" form to the website soon.


The manufacturing workshops were held last year!:

But you can still look at the presentation materials here. You can also email the MCSB if you have any questions.