June 13, 2018:
- SAVE THE DATE: Thursday June 28TH 5-7 PM. The Cannabis Licensing Office (CLO) and State Agencies will host another workshop. This time the CLO will walk license applicants through the Pre-Application requirements (see Application/Resources tab for more information) and answer any questions or confusion you may have about the application or the process to come. State agencies including CA Fish and Wildlife will be providing updated information on their permit requirements towards preparing for your State licenses.
- Please refer to our new quick reference guide to licensing to determine basic parcel eligibility HERE.
June 5, 2018:
See the new Application/Resources tab to review the Non-Retail Cannabis Business License Application process and requirements. Click HERE
to read more!
May 17, 2018:
Updated Frequently Asked Questions on Cannabis Licensing Process and Use Permitting. Please read these questions in detail before you contact the Cannabis Licensing Office with your questions. See FAQs HERE
May 8, 2018:
Board of Supervisors Adopts Non-Retail Commercial Cannabis Business Ordinances
On Tuesday May 8, 2018, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors adopted the Non-Retail Commercial Cannabis Business ordinances, formally adopting a Cannabis Licensing Program to completely regulate the cannabis supply chain: cultivation, manufacture and distribution. In 30 days, on June 8th 2018, the ordinances will go into effect. After this date, the Cannabis Licensing Office (CLO) will begin to distribute application materials and invite applicants to start applying for licensure. We are not currently accepting applications.
To see the regulations that are now APPROVED and understand eligibility and operational requirements, click on this link and review Attachment 1, 2, 3, and 4. Attachments 2-4 are key to assessing prospective license eligibility.
The CLO thanks all those who participated in this important public process to regulate the cannabis supply chain.
May 4, 2018:
Link to April 26, 2018 Local and State Cannabis Licensing Workshop
Listen in to learn more about the non-retail commercial cannabis licensing process to come. State agencies, State Water Resources Control Board, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife presented their updates and information on application processes, as did the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Licensing Office. Give it a listen and learn!
To watch, click here!
May 3, 2018:
NEWSFLASH: 2nd reading of Final Adoption of the Non-Retail Commercial Cannabis Ordinances is scheduled for this Tuesday May 8th starting at 9 AM- Board of Supervisors, 5th Floor Chambers, 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz. A copy of the Board Letter and Attachments may be found HERE. If the Board adopts the ordinances on Tuesday, the ordinances would go into effect on June 8th.
The Cannabis Licensing Office will be providing updates on the application process later this month and will release application materials in June. We are NOT accepting applications at this time. Check the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Licensing website frequently for news and updates or get on our mailing list. Thank you.
April 25, 2018:
SAVE THE DATE! Local and State Agencies-Cannabis Workshop 6-9 PM Thursday April 26th, 701 Ocean St, Board Chambers, Santa Cruz.
Following the scheduled Board of Supervisors hearing on April 24th, the Cannabis Licensing Office plans to hold a workshop on the 26th to update those interested in cannabis business licenses on final proposed regulations, the license/land use permitting process to come, as well as have State agencies provide guidance on application requirements. Fish and Wildlife, Regional Water Board, and the State Water Board officials will return to give more detailed explanations on what you need to do for State licensure. It will be an evening full of important information for you!
April 24, 2018:
Board Takes Steps to Approve Cannabis Ordinances
The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a set of cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution ordinances creating a regulated local cannabis industry that protects neighborhoods and the environment while enhancing public services.
Tuesday's unanimous vote is the culmination of several years of local planning and public input, a period which included the creation of the Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee, California voters' approval of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act and a lengthy environmental review process.
The ordinances establish rules to cover key aspects of the cannabis supply chain involving cultivation, manufacture and distribution that protect public safety and include strict land use requirements, subjecting growers for the first time to licensing requirements and conformance with relevant state and local laws, including environmental, land use, building, and other regulations.
With restrictions and limitations, the ordinances allow for indoor cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution operations in commercial areas, as well as indoor or outdoor cultivation, manufacture and distribution on large agricultural and rural lots. Dangerous practices such as neighborhood "whole-house" grows are prohibited, while practices such as solvent-based extraction methods are strictly regulated.
To protect small growers, the Board added a "Cottage Garden" license category for operators in continuous cultivation since before January 2013. Cottage Garden licenses are available for parcels of at least 2.5 acres and allow a canopy of up to 500 square feet on A, RA, TP and SU zoned parcels.
Individual applications will receive site-specific environmental review, be required to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and if not exempt from CEQA, must include any appropriate mitigation measures identified through the environmental review process.
The Board took a number of steps to protect neighborhoods and encourage responsible operations, including adoption of supplementary Best Management and Operational Practices requirements and an Enforcement Plan. It also allowed for increased review, including public hearing, prior to approval of outdoor cultivation projects if proposed cultivation would be located within the mandatory 400 foot setback from neighboring residences. Complaints may be made to the Cannabis Licensing Office, and the Board will receive quarterly reports on cannabis licensing operations. The Board also voted to protect existing timberlands from being converted to cannabis farms.
To assist with licensing and enforcement activities, the Board had previously reduced cannabis business taxes from seven percent to five percent for cultivators and manufacturers through 2019, gradually rising to seven percent by 2022. Forms related to cannabis business taxes are available online at the Santa Cruz County Treasurer-Tax Collector's website, available at www.santacruzcounty.us.
As part of the enforcement plan adopted Tuesday, the County's existing Cannabis Enforcement Team will be expanded, focusing on unlicensed activities in the unincorporated areas and existing businesses that have exceeded their licensing authority. Enforcement will include an anonymous process for complainants to report possible violations and there will be public disclosure of data regarding the type and number of complaints received, as well as the location of open cannabis code enforcement cases.
All cannabis licenses will be subject to annual renewal and site inspections. Periodic unannounced inspections may also be performed.
MAY 8, 2018 WILL BE THE SECOND READING OF THE ORDINANCE PACKAGE BY THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS. 30 DAYS AFTER THIS DATE, THE ORDINANCES WILL BE IN EFFECT.
BE ADVISED THAT UNTIL THE ORDIANCES ARE FORMALLY ADOPTED THEY ARE NOT YET IN EFFECT AND ANY INVESTMENT OR ACTION ON THE PART OF THE INDUSTRY TO ACQUIRE PROPERTY FOR POSSIBLE FUTURE CANNABIS ACTIVITIY IS A RISK.
FURTHER, NO NEW CANNABIS BUSINESS ACTIVITIES OR EXPANSION ARE ALLOWED UNTIL ANNUAL LOCAL AND STATE CANNABIS BUSINESS LICENSES AND LAND USE PERMITS HAVE BEEN OBTAINED.
April 19, 2018:
NEW: Board of Supervisors Hearing Tuesday April 24, 2018 1:30 PM Board of Supervisors Chambers
Proposed Final Ordinances Released for Santa Cruz County Code (SCCC) Chapters 7.128 and Amendments to 13.10 Non-Retail Commercial Cannabis Businesses
The County has assembled proposed final draft ordinances for the consideration of the Board of Supervisors to regulate the commercial cannabis supply chain involving cultivation, manufacture and distribution:
SCCC Chapter 7.128 NON-RETAIL COMMERCIAL CANNABIS BUSINESSES establishes regulations for cannabis cultivation, manufacture and distribution.
SCCC Chapter 13.10 Zoning Ordinance Amendments for NON-RETAIL COMMERCIAL CANANBIS USES establishes land use permitting requirements and restrictions for cannabis cultivation, manufacture and distribution.
These two proposed final ordinances work in partnership to regulate the non-retail cannabis supply chain. While proposed SCCC 7.128 serves to establish operational restrictions and a cannabis licensing program for non-retail commercial cannabis businesses in Santa Cruz County, Amendments to SCCC 13.10 Zoning Ordinance have been proposed to establish zoning restrictions and land use permitting requirements for the industry. These partner ordinances are intended to be read in tandem to determine potential cannabis business site eligibility and operational restrictions for non-retail cannabis businesses.
Tuesday April 24, 2018 starting at approx. 1:30 PM, the Board of Supervisors will reconvene to consider the proposed ordinance amendments to Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 7.128, 13.10, 16.01 and related amendments to the Santa Cruz General Plan/Local Coastal Plan, regarding a Cannabis licensing, regulatory and land use program for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and distribution activities. This item follows a special Board of Supervisors hearing that was held on April 9th where the Board gave staff direction to modify the ordinances in response to Planning Commission recommendations received in March.
Board Letter and Proposed Ordinances (with strikethrough and underline tracked changes) for April 24th hearing click HERE.
If you have comments you would like to submit, attend hearing and you may speak during public comments or scroll to bottom of Board Letter (link above) and add your comment under "Discussion".
April 13, 2018:
SAVE THE DATE! Local and State Agencies-Cannabis Workshop 6-9 PM Thursday April 26th, 701 Ocean St, Board Chambers, Santa Cruz.
Following the scheduled Board of Supervisors hearing on April 24th, the Cannabis Licensing Office plans to hold a workshop on the 26th to update those interested in cannabis business licenses on final proposed regulations, the license/land use permitting process to come, as well as have State agencies provide guidance on application requirements. Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Board officials will return to give more detailed explanations on what you need to do for State licensure. It will be an evening full of important information for you!
APRIL 9, 2018:
On Monday April 9th the Board of Supervisors met to review proposed final non-retail cannabis business regulations. After considering all Planning Commission recommendations, the Board gave direction to staff to update the ordinances for the upcoming FIRST reading of the final draft regulations to be heard on April 24th. Included in the Board decision was to:
- add a Cottage license for small grows not exceeding 500 sf;
- establish January 2013 as the date after which cannabis sites are considered "new" (as related to RA, SU, and TP zones);
- bring back SU zone district for cannabis business eligibility with Mountain Residential or Rural Residential General Plan designations; and
- provide for a "provisional" license process for existing, long-standing operators to stay in operation pending approvals of their land use permit and cannabis business license.
Several other changes were made and staff is working diligently to incorporate all these changes.
To listen back to the April 9th BOS hearing, please click here.
The public will be able to review all updates to the proposed ordinances in the Board packet to be made available Thursday April 19th.
See you all April 24th!
Newsflash March 20, 2018: There will be a special Board of Supervisors hearing to consider final non-retail cannabis business regulations. The Board will meet at 9 AM April 9th to hear from staff and weigh the recommendations made by the Planning Commission in its March 14th meeting. The Board will give staff direction on final ordinance adoption at this meeting. Barring any substantive changes that would require the Planning Commission's review once again, or some other unexpected delay, the Board is likely to hold another meeting in later April to adopt final regulations. Once the Board adopts the regulations, there must be a second reading of the ordinance at a subsequent hearing for the regulations to come into effect.
On March 14, 2018, the Planning Commission reviewed staff information and public comments on the proposed non-retail commercial cannabis regulations, as a part of a continued hearing from February 28th. They arrived at a list of recommendations that will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) for their consideration at a public hearing on either April 9th or 10th (date pending). The upcoming BOS hearing will likely be one of the last hearings before the legislation is adopted. We will advise as to the schedule when we know more. Hearing link available here (starting at minute 17:35).
Wednesday March 14th starting at approx. 9 AM, the Planning Commission will reconvene to consider the proposed ordinance amendments to Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 7.128, 13.10, 16.01 and related amendments to the Santa Cruz General Plan/Local Coastal Plan, regarding a Cannabis licensing, regulatory and land use program for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and distribution activities. This item was continued from the February 28th hearing due to the large volume of new material and public comments received.
Staff Report for March 14th hearing click HERE.
Agenda information and older staff documents and ordinance info may be found HERE.
If you have comments you would like to submit, attend hearing and you may speak during public comments OR email: PC2.28CannabisItemComments@santacruzcounty.us
The Board of Supervisors held a special meeting to consider the revised proposed non-retail cannabis ordinances and staff’s recommendation to use the State’s CEQA statutory exemption rather than certifying the Draft EIR. Links are now available to the hearing and the public comments made during the environmental review process which were considered during revisions to the proposed ordinances.
The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the proposed program to regulate commercial cannabis cultivation and manufacturing is available for review. The 60-day comment period closed as of 5 PM October 31, 2017. All comments will be addressed prior to the release of the Final EIR. A public hearing before the Planning Commission is expected in December and a Board of Supervisors hearing will follow in early 2018. Click here for more information regarding environmental review of the proposed cannabis regulations.
Dan Peterson and Loretta Moreno joined Christopher Carr on The Cannabis Connection for a conversation on Santa Cruz County Cannabis Policy. Listen to the interview by clicking here:
On November 8, 2016 the voters passed a Cannabis Business Tax. Information on the tax ordinance and how to pay your tax is available here.
On August 2, 2016, The Board of Supervisors adopted the Cannabis Dispensary Licensing Ordinance, adding Chapter 7.130 to the Santa Cruz County Code. A copy of the final ordinance can be viewed here.