January 20, 2019

It’s the beginning of the year and that means planning for springtime festivals –  Coachella, High Times, County fairs, Cannabis Cup, and StageCoach – to name a few. However, this year may bring a different flair to California events – Cannabis.  As cannabis events are tapping into the Golden State’s love of outdoor festivals, event licenses are becoming increasingly more popular. Now that California has adopted its final regulations, we can start planning! Let’s take a look at what cannabis events have in store.

When You Would Need An Event License

In short, every cannabis event must be licensed if it is a public event. If you are hosting an event that is open to the public, you are selling tickets to the public and/or there are vendors showcasing and selling product, this is a public event and a cannabis event license is needed. The one exception to the license requirement is private events.

The Double License Process

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”) regulates and licenses cannabis events. Unlike any other licensing application, cannabis event organizer applicants must FIRST apply for an annual cannabis event organizer license and thereafter they must apply for a temporary cannabis event license for each individual event.

Annual license fees vary based on the number of events organized by the licensee per year – $3,000 for an organizer planning 1-5 events per year, $5,000 for 6-10 events, 11-20 events is $9,000 and any more than that is $20k for the year.

The Temporary Event Application

Every event organizer must have an annual cannabis event license in order to throw cannabis parties, conventions, and fairs. For each individual event, a secondary application must then be filed with the BCC for a temporary permit. Temporary applications have to be filed at least 60 days before each event and an event license will only be granted for an event that is 4 days or less. Temporary event applications must include a diagram of the layout of the event showing the sales and consumption areas, and a list of all licensees providing on-site sales at the event.

Now that you know how it works, here are some details you want to keep in mind when planning a licensed cannabis event.


Cannabis events must be held at a county fair or district agricultural association event unless the city approves an alternative location. Before you get too excited about having a beer and a blunt, it’s important to know that a temporary cannabis event license CANNOT be issued for premises that are licensed for the sale of alcohol or tobacco.

Local Authorization

A cannabis event license is just like any other cannabis license – written approval from the local jurisdiction authorizing on-site cannabis sales and consumption is required for each temporary event application.

Cannabis Sales

Cannabis may be sold at a cannabis event. Every temporary event license must submit a premise diagram designating a specific retail area and naming all cannabis vendors that are going to set up shop there. CAUTION: An event license DOES NOT give the event organizer the ability to sell cannabis themselves. Only a licensed retailer or microbusiness can sell cannabis at an event. BUT – if an event organizer applies for a retail license as a storefront/delivery in addition to their event license, then they can sell cannabis at their own event.  Otherwise, sales of cannabis at events are strictly limited to third-party licensed retailers.

Cannabis Consumption

Cannabis may be consumed at a cannabis event, however, if the event is not 21 and over, there must be a specific consumption area that is restricted to 21 and older. This area cannot be visible from any public place or non-age-restricted area.

21 and Over

All cannabis goods sold and or consumed at the event must be limited to persons 21 years and older.


The sale of alcohol or tobacco is not allowed on the cannabis event premises.

Free Cannabis and Giveaways

Events have to follow the same rules that retailers do when it comes to free goodies. That is – events can only give out free cannabis to medical patients or caregivers who have a medical cannabis ID card issued by the Health Dept. Sorry guys – California said no to free dab stations and sampling.

Other Cannabis Activities

An event license does not allow the holder to cultivate, distribute, manufacture, or sell cannabis or cannabis products unless the holder of the license also holds a separate license to engage in those commercial cannabis activities.

Events can be tricky, always consult with a cannabis attorney to make sure your event is legal. Let the planning begin!

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.

Contact one of our cannabis law firm specialists today by phone at 310-912-2960 or online.

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