How to Get a CBD License in Pennsylvania & Start Your Business

Despite the growing legality of cannabis in the tri-state area (in the surrounding states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut), Pennsylvania remains a restrictive state, allowing only hemp-derived CBD (with less than 0.3% THC) and medical marijuana to prescription patients only. To sell CBD products in the state, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) issues a general permit to regulate the distribution and sale of hemp, much in line with the 2018 Federal Farm Bill. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to get a CBD license and start a CBD business in the beautiful Keystone State. We’ve got all you need to know, including PA application requirements, renewal information, and state CBD regulations for retail businesses.

How to Start a CBD Business in Pennsylvania

To open a CBD business in Pennsylvania, you’ll follow many of the same state business guidelines laid out by the Secretary of State. Here are some essential steps in the process:

  • Determine the structure of your business. You’ll need to register your business with the state (as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or LLC, among other business types) and determine what permits you’ll need to cultivate, process, sell, or resell hemp and CBD products. 
  • Develop a business plan. Identify your audience, product offerings, business structure, and a financial plan with startup costs, projected expenses, and revenue forecasts. 
  • Obtain all necessary permits and register your business. Read through the PA Hemp General Permit to establish the type of permit you’ll need, and the application requirements. Familiarize yourself with these conditions to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Partner with a reputable payment processor offering CBD merchant accounts to secure seamless payment options and suitable integrations.
  • Find a CBD vendor. Once you’re ready to accept payments, you can make CBD products in-house or outsource them from a wholesale supplier. If you partner with a drop shipper, ensure their products comply with state regulations.
  • Use a third-party lab to verify the potency and purity of your CBD products.
  • Comply With labeling and packaging requirements. Provide accurate product descriptions on product labels, including THC content, Batch numbers, Manufacturer Details, Reputable third-party certifications, and any required disclaimers.
  • Define your shipping and pricing models. Define your shipping and pricing models, including realistic shipping fees, logistic carriers, delivery timelines, and appropriate fulfillment software. 
  • Develop a marketing & sales strategy. Conduct market research to help understand, attract, convert, and retain the right audience for your product line, complying with advertising regulations specific to CBD products in PA (make sure to comply with regulations for each platform).
  • Stay Informed. Constant amendments in CBD regulations make the CBD industry high-risk in Pennsylvania. As such, stay informed of the legal requirements and seek advice from legal and financial experts whenever necessary.

How to Get a Pennsylvania CBD License

You’ll need a Pennsylvania CBD license to begin operating your CBD business in PA. To acquire one, you need to: 

1. Research and understand CBD-specific regulations. Read and understand the federal guidelines (under the U.S. Farm Bill 2018) and the PA Hemp General Permit guidelines on CBD, which include information on where to set up your business if you’re a grower. The general permit provides regulations on the cultivation, distribution, wholesale, retail, storage, and warehousing of hemp-derived products. You are responsible for staying current and meeting any changes in CBD guidelines.

2. Complete permit applications. After carefully reviewing the General Permit guidelines, you can complete the permit application on the PA Plants website. Alternatively, you can complete the Hemp Permit and Application & Renewal Form. You’ll incur a permit application fee depending on the type of product you’re offering.

3. Undergo background checks. New applicants need an FBI background check within 60 days of submitting their permit application forms. You must submit a set of your fingerprints for any criminal activity check. 

A blue and orange info symbol.

CBD License Application Requirements for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture outlines the requirements needed to apply for a CBD license. The application instructions include:

  • A complete application form
  • Business registration certificate 
  • Background checks for key individuals involved in the business within 60 days of the permit application 
  • Location of business
  • Contact information
  • Data on product packaging and labeling
  • CBD products analysis certificate 
  • Compliance certificate to prove you comply with manufacturing and labeling standards 
  • Application fee of $150 

Laws and Regulations for Selling CBD in Pennsylvania

Three CBD bottles containing oils and flower, all purchased after reading about how to get a CBD license.

It is legal to sell hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC in Pennsylvania. In compliance with the FDA guidelines, Pennsylvania does not permit the sale of CBD edibles and gummies within its jurisdiction. PA allows you to sell CBD products with less than 0.3% THC but prohibits the marketing of CBD products as food, nutrition, or dietary supplements,

The fundamental laws and regulations for selling CBD in Pennsylvania include:

  • CBD products legal in PA must be derived from hemp and contain less than 0.3% THC content. 
  • Merchants can resale out-of-state CBD products in PA provided they meet all federal and state-of-origin cultivation and production standards.  
  • Only PDA-approved merchants can cultivate, process, transport, buy, and sell hemp-derived CBD products. 
  • CBD products with more than 0.3% THC are only legal with a medical marijuana card.
  • Businesses can only sell CBD products to persons 18 or older. 

Additionally, Pennsylvania has enacted several bills on its hemp industry. House Bill 967 (2016) legalized the growing, cultivation, and sale of industrial hemp and hemp-derived products.  

Act 16, known as the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, was passed in 2016. The act permits qualified physicians to issue medical marijuana cards to persons with certain medical conditions. 

Senate Bill 3 permits licensed individuals and businesses to cultivate and process cannabis plants for medical purposes. The bill also allows persons with medical cards to prepare CBD edibles at home.

How to Renew Your CBD License in Pennsylvania

CBD licenses in PA expire on December 31 of every year. If you are a new applicant, you can renew your permit one year from the issue date. There’s a $50 fee for renewing your permit. You need to provide your current contact information during the renewal process.  

Start Selling CBD in Pennsylvania

To start selling CBD products in Pennsylvania, you’ll need a Pennsylvania CBD license, among other business permits and certifications. As a matter of course, you’ll also need to be aware of all the constantly changing CBD laws, regulations, and trends to stay ahead of your competition.

After carefully reviewing the guidelines, complete your permit application, pay your $150 application fee, and complete your background check (submit your fingerprints within 60 days of submitting your permit application forms), then receive your Pennsylvania CBD license to start selling products!

Get involved locally to boost business and establish an online CBD store to sell your products. Most importantly, partner with a high-risk payment processor offering CBD merchant accounts. This way, your customers can complete their payments in a secure environment.

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Pennsylvania CBD License: FAQs 

Yes, CBD is legal in Pennsylvania, provided it is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% THC. CBD in edible and gummy form is not legal in PA.

How much does a CBD license cost in Pennsylvania? 

The cost of a Pennsylvania CBD license varies depending on the product offering. There’s a $150 permit application fee and a $50 permit renewal fee.

Can you sell CBD without a license in Pennsylvania? 

No, you cannot sell CBD in Pennsylvania without a license from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. 

How long is a CBD license valid in Pennsylvania?

A CBD license in Pennsylvania is valid for one year—the permit expires on December 31 every year.

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