The MAUCRSA acronym doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But it’s arguably one of the most consequential laws in cannabis legalization history. It stands for the Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act and it was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown in 2017. It serves as the legal landscape for the largest legal cannabis market in the world: California.

What is the MAUCRSA?

The Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act is the 2017 law that makes legal marijuana possible in California. But its roots began long before 2007.

In 1996, California passed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). That law was one of the first of its kinds, allowing registered medical cannabis patients to access their medicine in the state of California. Under this law, all patients needed was a valid medical recommendation from a physician. While the medical program was robust, it still left a lot to be desired. Without adult use cannabis laws, California’s cannabis black market thrived and the state was still incarcerating people for petty cannabis crimes.

In 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64. This was also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). When the AUMA passed, it had to be reconciled with existing medical cannabis laws in California. As a result, Governor Jerry Brown sought to unify these laws. It was through this reconciliation process that the MAUCRSA was born.


What does the MAUCRSA do?

As you could probably guess, the Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act legalizes the adult use of cannabis in California. And it keeps the medical cannabis program relatively the same. As a result, the MAUCRSA establishes rules and regulations for the buying and selling of cannabis to adults 21 years and older. It allows for brick-and-mortar retail dispensaries and medical dispensaries.

Who is in charge of regulating California’s cannabis industry?

Under the MAUCRSA, the Bureau of Cannabis Control is in charge of regulating the state’s industry. The Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch is in charge of overseeing all cannabis-infused edibles. And the Cal Cannabis Cultivation Licensing, which is a division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is in charge of licensing cultivators and establishing/maintaining the state’s track-and-trace system.

What types of cannabis licenses are available under the MAUCRSA?

There are more than a dozen cannabis license types to choose from in California. As you can see from the list below, there are unique licenses for different types of cultivation (indoor, outdoor, mixed light, small, large). And there are separate licenses for manufacturing, distribution, lab testing and retail.

  • Type 1: Cultivation; Specialty outdoor; Small.
  • Type 1A: Cultivation; Specialty indoor; Small.
  • Type 1B: Cultivation; Specialty mixed-light; Small
  • Type 1C: Cultivation; Specialty cottage; Small.
  • Type 2: Cultivation; Outdoor; Small.
  • Type 2A: Cultivation; Indoor; Small.
  • Type 2B: Cultivation; Mixed-light. Small.
  • Type 3: Cultivation; Outdoor; Medium.
  • Type 3A: Cultivation; Indoor; Medium.
  • Type 3B: Cultivation; Mixed-light. Medium.
  • Type 4: Cultivation; Nursery.
  • Type 5: Cultivation; Outdoor; Large.
  • Type 5A: Cultivation; Indoor; Large.
  • Type 5B: Cultivation; Mixed-light; Large.
  • Type 6: Manufacturer 1.
  • Type 7: Manufacturer 2.
  • Type 8: Testing laboratory.
  • Type 10: Retailer.
  • Type 11: Distributor.
  • Type 12: Microbusiness.

Generally speaking, an individual can hold more than two licenses but they must be separate and distinct businesses. There are some exceptions to this. A testing lab is not allowed to have any other type of license. And a large scale grower cannot own a distributor license or micro-business license.

How do you get a cannabis license in California under MAUCRSA?

The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) is in charge of all cannabis licensing. You can apply through their online licensing system. Lucky for out of state investors or new California residents, the MAUCRSA removed all residency requirements. But local jurisdictions can impose residency requirements, so pay attention to the laws in the specific area where you are hoping to open your cannabis business.

All applicants and those with ownership interest in the proposed company must undergo thorough background checks and provide business formation documents, financial disclosures and detailed operating plans.

How much does a cannabis license cost?

Across the board there is a $1,000 non-refundable application fee. And the MAUCRSA also requires a cannabis business have a $5,000 Marijuana Surety Bond (which usually costs around $250).  

But there is also an annual licensing fee each cannabis business will be responsible for. And this fee depends on the projected value of your business. For companies that project a value of up to $750,000, the licensing fee is $4,000. But for those who project a value of up to $2.5 million, the fee is $20,000. This fee increases up to $120,000 for cannabis businesses that project a value of more than $7.5 million.


The California cannabis licensing application is rigorous. Any potential applicant should partner with legal representation that has successfully navigated the California cannabis licensing process. Gleam Law is a leader in the state and can help with you get the MAUCRSA license you want.