Sonoma County Approves Cannabis Ordinance; Restricts Cultivation in Residential Zones

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At its meeting on December 14, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a land-use ordinance regulating cannabis operations, including cultivation, dispensaries, testing, manufacturing, and transportation. The minutes and video from the meeting are publicly available.

The ordinance varies in some important ways from the framework proposed by the Planning Commission’s Medical Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee. Perhaps most significantly, the ordinance does not adopt the Committee’s full recommendation regarding the zoning districts in which to permit cannabis cultivation: the ordinance does not permit commercial cultivation in Rural Residential or Agriculture and Residential zones.

Additional items of particular interest addressed by the Board related to cannabis include:

  • The Cannabis Business Tax Ordinance.  The Board approved this tax ordinance to appear on the ballot for the March 7, 2017, election. Details are available in the Board Summary Report. Implementation of the land-use ordinance depends on passage of the Cannabis Business Tax Ordinance or identification of an alternative funding source.
  • Environmental Issues. The land-use ordinance addresses important environmental review issues. All cultivation sites must provide either (a) a biotic assessment or (b) a biologist’s report stating that the planned activities will not violate federal or state environmental habitat protections.
  • Medical Cannabis Health Ordinance. Among other provisions, this ordinance subjects edible cannabis products to the food safety requirements of the California Health and Safety Code.

If you have questions regarding this legal development and its effect on your business or property, please contact an attorney at Rogoway Law Group for guidance specific to your situation.

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