County of Santa Barbara Long Range Planning Division

Medical Marijuana

On January 19, 2016, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors adopted Medical Marijuana Regulations. The regulations prohibit the cultivation and/or processing of medical marijuana within the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County, except for the limited exemptions provided for (1) cultivation for personal medical use and (2) legal cultivation sites existing on January 19, 2016.

The Medical Marijuana Regulations appear as Article X, Chapter 35 of the County Code of Santa Barbara County. Please click below to view the new regulations:

Medical Marijuana Regulations

The County has recently received various questions from the public regarding medical marijuana cultivation and the Medical Marijuana Regulations. In addition, questions have arisen regarding medical marijuana storefront dispensaries and medical marijuana deliveries within the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County. The "Frequently Asked Questions" below are intended to help answer these questions.

Please contact staff with any questions or comments.

Questions regarding the Medical Marijuana Regulations:

Mindy Fogg, Supervising Planner
Long Range Planning Division
(805) 884-6848
mfogg@countyofsb.org

Jessica Metzger, Senior Planner
Long Range Planning Division
(805) 568-3532
jmetzger@countyofsb.org

Questions regarding zoning ordinances or permits and building codes or permits:

Petra Leyva, Supervising Planner
Zoning Counter, Building and Safety Division
(805) 568-2071
petra@countyofsb.org

Zoning Counter (zoning ordinances or permits)
123 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, 2nd Floor
(805) 568-2090

Building and Safety County (building codes or permits)
123 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, 2nd Floor
(805) 934-6230

 

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Frequently Asked Questions:

 

 

1. Are medical marijuana storefront dispensaries allowed in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County?

No; the County zoning ordinances state that “medical marijuana dispensaries” are not allowed in any zone district in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County.  [County Land Use and Development Code, Sections 35.20.030.A.3.d and 35.42.195; Montecito Land Use and Development Code, Section 35.420.030.A.3.c and 35.430.125; and Coastal Zoning Ordinance, Sections 35-144.I] The zoning ordinances define “medical marijuana dispensary” as “A facility or location that dispenses marijuana through a storefront, including but not limited to storefronts organized and operated by a collective or a cooperative.” (Underline added for emphasis.) The zoning ordinances also define “medical marijuana cooperative” and “medical marijuana collective.” [County Land Use and Development Code, Section 35.110.020; Montecito Land Use and Development Code, Section 35.500.020; and Coastal Zoning Ordinance, Section 35.58]

2. Do the County's recently adopted Medical Marijuana Regulations affect medical marijuana deliveries and/or operations in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County?

No; the county code and county ordinances, including the Medical Marijuana Regulations, do not prohibit or otherwise affect medical marijuana deliveries and/or delivery operations.

3. Do the Medical Marijuana Regulations allow new medical marijuana cultivation sites?

No, except for medical marijuana cultivation for personal medical use. Specifically, Subsection 35-1003.A of the Medical Marijuana Regulations states:

Medical Marijuana Cultivation Prohibited. Except for the limited exemptions in subsections A.l and A.2, below, medical marijuana cultivation is prohibited in all zones, districts, properties, and areas within the unincorporated areas of Santa County.  

Subsection 35-1003.A.1 of the Medical Marijuana Regulations may allow a qualified patient or person with an identification card, or that patient’s or person’s primary caregiver to cultivate medical marijuana for personal medical use. Please see question #4 below for additional details.

Subsection 35-1003.A.2 may provide an exemption for medical marijuana sites that existed on January 19, 2016. Please see question #5 below for additional information on this exemption.

4. Can persons cultivate medical marijuana for their own personal medical use?

Yes, subject to specific conditions and terms. In particular, Subsection 35-1003.A.1 of the Medical Marijuana Regulations states:

Medical Marijuana Cultivation for Personal Medical Use Exemption. A qualified patient or person with an identification card or that patient's or person's primary caregiver is allowed to engage in indoor or outdoor medical marijuana cultivation for personal medical use provided…

Subsections 35-1003.A.1.a through A.1.e list the following five conditions that apply to medical marijuana cultivation for personal medical use:

a.    The cultivation occurs on the lot that contains the lawful residential structure occupied by the qualified patient or person with an identification card; and

b.    The cultivation occurs on a single cultivation site that does not exceed one hundred square feet; and

c.    The cultivation conforms to all applicable zoning regulations and current California and county building codes; and

d.    The qualified patient or person with an identification card does not sell, distribute, donate, or provide marijuana to any other person or entity; and

e.    The primary caregiver does not sell, distribute, donate, or provide marijuana to any other person or entity for which they are not acting as the primary caregiver in accordance with the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.

In addition, medical marijuana cultivation must also comply with the definitions of key terms in Section 35-1002, Definitions, which include but are not limited to “qualified patient,” “person with an identification card,” and “primary caregiver.”

5. Do the Medical Marijuana Regulations prohibit existing legal medical marijuana cultivation sites that do not qualify for the personal medical use exemption?

No, provided the legal medical marijuana cultivation site existed on January 19, 2016 pursuant to Subsection 35-1003.A.2 of the Medical Marijuana Regulations. The limited exemption in Subsection 35-1003.A.2 states:

Legal Nonconforming Uses Exemption. Medical marijuana cultivation locations already existing on January 19, 2016, if they are legal under California state law; these would become legal nonconforming uses.

Marijuana cultivation sites that existed on January 19, 2016 may continue if they were legal under California state law. Such uses would become legal nonconforming uses. The County zoning ordinances prohibit the expansion or other changes to legal nonconforming uses.

6. Will the County provide documentation that existing medical marijuana cultivation sites qualify as "legal nonconforming uses" under Subsection 35-1003.A.2 of the Medical Marijuana Regulations?

No; not at this time. The County does not plan on issuing documentation until it evaluates the forthcoming state regulations required by the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.

7. Does the County maintain a registry of medical marijuana cultivation sites and/or operators located in the unincorporated County?

On April 11, 2017, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance establishing a limited term, non-personal cannabis cultivation and related Operations Registry Program within the unincorporated areas of the county. The ordinance was developed in response to medical and recreational marijuana (cannabis) cultivation following the passage of Proposition 64 (Adult Use of Marijuana Act) by California voters in the November 2016 general election.

This registry is not intended for those individuals cultivating cannabis for personal medical use in compliance with County Code Section 35-1003 A.1, or cultivating only six cannabis plants in compliance with Health and Safety Code section 11362.2. The online registry launched April 12, 2017, at https://secure.countyofsb.org/cannabis/registration. Due to sensitive information, the registry is through a secured website maintained by the County.

The goals of the registry program are to:

 Collect data on past, current and planned cannabis cultivation or related operations in the unincorporated area of the County,

 Inform future cannabis studies, including, but not limited to, a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental impact analysis and possibly a separate economic impact analysis, and

 Establish a pool of registrants who may receive priority review when they submit an application for the cultivation of cannabis or related cannabis operations in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County.

The registry program is open through June 30, 2017. The registry will not be used to collect information regarding those who are cultivating cannabis for personal use as allowed by County Code and state law. For a press release on the registry visit: http://countyofsb.org/asset.c/2827

8. Will the County investigate complaints that existing marijuana cultivation sites violate the Medical Marijuana Regulations?

Yes; the County Planning and Development Department (P&D) will investigate any complaints. P&D’s Code Enforcement Program is a complaint-driven program. The following web page provides additional information on P&D’s Code Enforcement Program: http://sbcountyplanning.org/enforcement/index.cfm

9. What standards or laws will the County use to determine if a medical marijuana cultivation site (not for personal medical use) violates the County's Medical Marijuana Regulations?

According to Subsection 35-1003.A.2 of the Medical Marijuana Regulations:

Legal Nonconforming Uses Exemption. Medical marijuana cultivation locations already existing on January 19, 2016, if they are legal under California state law; these would become legal nonconforming uses.

The following list includes examples of applicable state law, including but not limited to the Compassionate Use Act, the Medical Marijuana Program Act, and the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act:

  • The medical marijuana cultivation location is not located within a 600-foot radius of a school.  [Health and Safety Code Section 11362.768(b)]

  • The medical marijuana cultivation location complies with local laws, including for example, but not limited to, zoning, building, grading, and water requirements.  [California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.769 and 11362.777(b)(3); Business and Professions Code Section 19322(a)(2)]

  • The medical marijuana cultivation is not a for profit business/organization.  [Health and Safety Code Section 11362.765(a)]

  • The owner/operator of the medical marijuana cultivation location has a caregiver relationship with qualified patients and/or their primary caregivers.  [Health and Safety Code Section 11362.5(d)]

  • The quantity of medical marijuana cultivated complies with the amounts specified in Health and Safety Code Section 11362.77(a) and (b).
  • 10. Who can provide additional information regarding medical marijuana cultivation in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County?

    Please see the staff and office contact information above.