The transition from medicinal cannabis to adult-use recreational cannabis in California is rife with bureaucracy. I met today with a man who prepared the application packages for two Sacramento dispensaries that hope to begin recreational sales on Jan. 1.

Here are the steps in the transition as my dispensary source laid them out:

  • Submit application with City of Sacramento to sell adult-use cannabis.
  • Obtain a letter of authorization from the city affirming currently permitted medicinal cannabis dispensary has paid its taxes and passed  audits.
  • Submit a Neighborhood Responsibility Plan.
  • File application and receive approval for minor modification of conditional use permit (eg: transition from medicinal to recreational) with city Planning Department.
  • Apply for and receive business operating permit.
  • Apply for temporary operating license from the state.
  • Continue to apply for permanent annual state license.

My source said that as of noon today, one of his dispensaries has checked off all but the last two on the list and the other dispensary is trailing the first by a day in the process. He said the first business license will be in hand ASAP and applications for state permits will filed as the business licenses for each dispensary is obtained.

The state will review the applications and verify the dispensaries’ operating status with the city before approving licenses.

My source said he hopes his two dispensaries — two of the best-run shops in Sacramento, one accounting for 25 percent of total amount of money generated by the city’s 4 percent dispensary tax — will be open for recreational sales at 9 a.m. Jan. 1.

The City of Sacramento is closed for business Friday, Monday and next Friday. That leaves tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for dispensaries to complete all the necessary steps and get approved to legally sell recreational cannabis on the first day of the new year — the beginning of a new era in California cannabis.