April 21, 2021

California has long been a cannabis pioneer in the United States, starting with its initial legalization of medical marijuana back in 1996. With California leading the way, other states began to fall in line through today, when half of America’s states have a legal medical marijuana program.

Somehow it took another two decades before California voted to legalize recreational marijuana. The vote was successful in 2016, and the details are still being finalized. The future is bright: starting in January 2018, retail sales of recreational marijuana will begin. The licensing processes for recreational and medical marijuana are being combined into one to help speed things along.

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The original vote to legalize medical marijuana took place in California in 1995, with the program launch occurring in 1996. Jerry Brown, the governor at the time, is once again governor of California today. The licensing program was made with the help of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), which details all the rules and regulations for any marijuana-related business. The same framework is being used to design the recreational program (launching on the first day of 2018).

California’s marijuana market

The marijuana market in California is booming, as indicated by the money: $845 million is made annually from marijuana. There are currently more than 2,800 dispensaries that can be found in California. The current prediction states that, in just over two years, the market will be up to $1 billion.

Owner requirements

Owner requirements

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Any prospective cannabis business owner should be aware of the fact that, although there are certain laws in the state of California, individual cities and counties can make their own rules for what is required. Be sure to check into these laws and differences, so you stay within the bounds of the law.

License requirements

The licensing process, starting in January of 2018, will include the following stages:

  • Stage 1: Preliminary determination of eligibility Cost: $3,258.00
  • Stage 2: Initial ranking. Cost: $701.00
  • Stage 3: Second ranking. Cost: $1,790.00
  • Stage 4: Public Meeting and City Council Final Selection. Cost:$1,937.00
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During the first stage, the California City Police Department will run a background check on the applicant to determine if there has ever been criminal charges. Due to a lack of resources, it is a slow process and needs to be paid by the applicant. It costs $78 and should be paid on-site. Only six applicants’ background checks (at the most) will be processed per day.

The location also needs to be taken into account. Acquire a “Zoning Verification Letter” from the local Public Works department, and submit it to your local city hall’s Planning Division. This will cost $250 and should take approximately two weeks in total.

Before the fourth and final stage, a public meeting will take place between applicants and community members. It will occur in the California City Council Chambers and will discuss the location proposed, the business planning (budgets, proof of capital), safety plans, environmental and community benefits, and standards of employment.

Financial requirements

Be sure to have the sufficient financial means to start up a marijuana business in the state of California, as they add up quickly right off the bat. The costs vary according to how expansive your delivery service is going to be. As described above, you can expect the following prices:

  • Stage 1: $3,258.00
  • Stage 2: $701.00
  • Stage 3: $1,790.00
  • Stage 4: $1,937.00
  • Total cost: $7,686


How long it takes to get your cannabis business up and running can vary widely; but it is not unusual for the process to take more than a year, due to finances, required licenses, suppliers, and employees lined up, etc.

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How much does a marijuana delivery service in California make

Cannabis delivery services in California can earn exceed $1 million annually. For example, Harborside Medical dispensary in San Jose, California reportedly does over $20 million in annual sales.

Looking to start a marijuana delivery business in California? These consulting companies provide a wide range of services – including helping with state licensing requirements and applications to running and stocking your business.

FAQs About Starting a Marijuana Delivery Service in California

When was cannabis made legal in California?

The original vote to legalize medical marijuana took place in California in 1995, with the program launch occurring in 1996.

How many dispensaries exist in California currently?

There are currently more than 2,800 dispensaries that can be found in California.

How long will it take to launch a cannabis business in California?

The timeframe for your cannabis business to be up and running can vary widely; but it shouldn’t take more than a year in general, due to finances, required licenses, suppliers, and employees lined up, etc.

Grow your own marijuana so you can free yourself from dispensaries. Our blog can help you get started.

What are your thoughts about starting a marijuana delivery service in California? Leave your comments below!

Until next time,


Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]


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  1. By Ricky Avila ,24 Jan 2018
    Hi; If I get a license for a delivery service, can I also sell to dispensaries?
  2. By Hash ,09 May 2019
    Thank you Alice. Very informative. I've been researching via the links you provided... I did not see a business email for yourself, as I had a few follow up business questions... if you'd like to shoot an email to the […]Read More
  3. By Erik ,27 May 2019
    How can I get started in the mobile dispensery
  4. By Sarah Jones ,14 Apr 2020
    Want information on getting delivery license
  5. By Rafael ,02 Aug 2020
    How do I get a cannibus delivery license in California and how much will it cost.
    1. By Tania ,23 Jan 2021
      Hey Rafael quick question I'm from California and I wanted to start a cannabis delivery business. I was wondering if you ever got a answer to your question? Can you let me know or if you've gotten any information on […]Read More

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