Cannabis cultivation in Alameda County is legal for medical and adult use as mandated by the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) of the State of California, but subject to the Alameda County Code of Ordinances Chapters 6.106, 6.109, and 17.52.585.
Proposition 64, or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), disallows counties from banning the personal cultivation of medical or recreational cannabis at home by adults aged 21 and older. Counties may prohibit home growing outdoors, but Alameda County has no such prohibition.
Under state law, only up to six plants may be grown in a household, even if more than one adult lives there. The cannabis plants or any of their byproducts cannot be given away or sold. The cannabis home grower must be the residence owner or have the owner’s permission for cannabis cultivation. Indoor and outdoor growing is allowed, provided it is not in an area shared with other residences, cannabis cannot be seen from outside the residence, and there is proper security against access by minors and theft.
For the commercial cultivation of cannabis in Alameda County, a business must first acquire from the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) a state cannabis microbusiness license or state cultivation license. The company must then apply for a county permit from the Alameda County Community Development Agency (CDA) for cannabis cultivation, which is valid for two years, and a conditional use permit (CUP) based on land zoning. The county will issue up to 10 cannabis cultivation licenses, but these are unavailable as of March 2023. Any existing licenses must be renewed not less than 45 days before they expire.
Businesses that already hold a county cannabis retail license may also apply for a combined cannabis operation license. This will authorize them to do cultivation in addition to retail, plus either manufacturing or distribution, all in the same location. The county will issue up to 14 combined cannabis operation licenses. Each license covers two years and should be renewed 45 days or more before expiration.
The following fees are charged for the county cannabis cultivation and combined cannabis operation licenses and applications:
Cannabis cultivation license application fee: $8,000
Combined cannabis operation license application fee: $2,900
Cannabis cultivation license final selection fee: $4,000
Cannabis cultivation license issuance fee: $2,000
Cannabis cultivation license annual regulatory program fee: $30,000
Combined cannabis operation license annual regulatory program fee: $30,000
Cannabis cultivation license renewal fee: $3,200
Combined cannabis operation license renewal fee: $3,200
Commercial cannabis cultivation outdoors is allowed if the cultivation licensee’s CUP indicates so and provided that the land area is not smaller than 25 acres. The cannabis canopy, however, must be limited to one acre. The entire premises must be fenced so that cannabis in any form is not visible from outside the property. There must be an enclosed and secure structure on the premises where cannabis will be dried, cured, trimmed, graded, and stored. If the licensee holds other licenses, such as for manufacturing and retail, the facilities for these may be located within the same land area.
For indoor or mixed-light commercial cannabis cultivation licensees, all cannabis growing must be within a secure enclosed structure with the use of artificial lights. Any form of cannabis must also not be seen from the outside. The maximum size of the cannabis canopy that can be grown indoors or with mixed lighting is 22,000 square feet.
For combined cannabis operation licensees, the cannabis canopy to be grown cannot be more than 10,000 square feet.
Licensed cultivation sites must stay:
1,000 feet or more away from any licensed childcare center, preschool, K-12 school, public playground, public park, public recreation center, or alcohol or drug treatment center
300 feet or more away from any adjacent residence owned by another individual, except if the owner provides a written waiver
50 feet or more away from any adjacent property owned by another individual, except if the owner provides a written waiver
All licensed cannabis cultivators are required to have representative samples of each cannabis crop batch tested by a county-accredited testing laboratory for quality.
All cannabis applicants and licensees, including cultivators and combined cannabis operators, must comply with the following county rules:
All applicants and licensees are required to be in current compliance with any child support obligations to be eligible and stay eligible. The county’s Department of Child Support Services must verify their compliance.
All licensees must observe all applicable county ordinances regarding health, buildings, noise, and others.
No light must emanate from the facilities at night, except for security lighting.
No particulate matter or odorous gasses must emanate from the facilities.
The licensees must ensure the implementation of tight security measures to prevent theft and keep the facilities and personnel safe. The security system must be equipped with alarms and approved by the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
Their license must be displayed prominently on the premises.
Any use, consumption, or other means of administration of cannabis on the site is prohibited.
The licensees must maintain current inventory records in the county’s track and trace system, monitoring the movement of all forms of cannabis, including cannabis waste.
Any waste that contains cannabis must be made unusable before disposal.
Licensees are only allowed to employ individuals aged 21 and older, who were not convicted of a felony in the previous three years.
The licensees must keep an updated registry of all individuals employed, contracted, or volunteering with the facility, to be made available to the CDA upon request.
The facility must be available for surprise inspections by the CDA or other local authorities at any time.
Cannabis manufacturing in Alameda County is legal for medical and adult use as stipulated by California’s MAUCRSA, but must comply with the Alameda County Code of Ordinances Chapters 6.109 and 17.52.585.
The county does not issue a separate permit for cannabis manufacturing alone. Instead, a company must apply for a combined cannabis operation license from the Alameda County CDA. This requires the applicant to already be a holder of the county cultivation or retail license and a CUP. Prior to that, the company must have acquired a state cannabis microbusiness license from the California DCC. That is because the Alameda combined cannabis operation license authorizes an existing cultivation licensee to also do manufacturing and wholesale distribution and an existing retail licensee to also do manufacturing, cultivation, and wholesale distribution.
The following rules apply to Alameda County combined cannabis operation licensees who undertake the manufacturing of cannabis products:
They must comply with all state laws and regulations that are applicable to cannabis manufacturing.
They must comply with all guidelines and standards set by the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health (DEH).
The licensed manufacturer is not allowed to use volatile solvents in cannabis extraction.
To manufacture edible cannabis products, Alameda County combined cannabis operation licensees must comply with the following rules:
The licensee must hold a state certification for food handling that is always on hand at the site.
The licensee must follow all county and state laws on food preparation, packaging, and labeling.
The facility where edible cannabis is to be manufactured, packaged, and labeled must have a permit from the Alameda County DEH regarding its building code and food safety in operations.
The facility where edible cannabis is to be manufactured, packaged, and labeled must always be available for inspection by the Alameda County DEH.
No other food products must be manufactured and packaged in the same facility to prevent their contamination with cannabis.
Personnel afflicted with illnesses that could be transmitted through food are forbidden from handling edible cannabis raw materials or products.
All personnel handling edible cannabis manufacturing, packaging, and labeling are required to first wash their hands thoroughly with soap and running water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit and dry them hygienically. They must then wear gloves before handling edible cannabis raw materials or finished products.
The packaging and labeling of edible cannabis products in Alameda County are subject to the following rules:
All edible cannabis packages and labels must comply with the California Business and Professions Code Section 26120.
All edible cannabis products must be packaged at the manufacturing site.
All edible cannabis packaging must be opaque, tamper-proof, and child-resistant.
All edible cannabis packaging must not look like regular food products.
All edible cannabis packaging must not look appealing to children or look like candy.
All edible cannabis packaging must be labeled in front with the following information included legibly:
The product contains cannabis
The total weight of active cannabis in the package
The date of the cannabis cultivation and product manufacturing
The source of the cannabis plant and product manufacturing
A warning to keep the product inaccessible to children
A warning that it is not a regular food product
Any known allergens present in the product
The number of calories in the product
Labels of baked edible cannabis products must state that the cannabis ingredient has been tested for contamination.
Licensed manufacturers must keep a log containing the following information on edible cannabis products:
The cannabis source for each product batch
The date of testing for each product batch
The name of the laboratory that tested each product batch
California’s MAUCRSA legalized cannabis retail selling in Alameda County for medical and adult use, but it must be compliant with the Alameda County Code of Ordinances Chapters 6.108, 6.109, and 17.52.585. A company must first obtain a state cannabis retail license or microbusiness license from the California DCC. It must then apply for a county CUP and cannabis retail license or combined cannabis operation license from the Alameda County CDA.
The county will issue up to five cannabis retail permits. Applications for county cannabis retail licenses closed, however, on August 16, 2021. Existing county cannabis retail licenses are good for two years and are renewable not less than 45 days from their expiration.
Licensed cannabis retail shops have the following location restrictions:
No retail activities are allowed in a residential zone or the equivalent.
No retail activities are allowed less than 1,000 feet from another retail operation
No retail activities are allowed less than 1,000 feet from any licensed daycare center, school, public playground, public recreation center, public park, or alcohol or drug treatment facility
The following fees are charged for the county cannabis retail licenses:
Cannabis retail license application fee: $8,000
Cannabis retail license final selection fee: $4,000
Cannabis retail license issuance fee: $2,000
Cannabis retail license annual regulatory program fee: $23,000
Cannabis retail license renewal fee: $2,700
Cannabis retailer shops of licensed retailers or licensed combined cannabis operators in Alameda County may only sell to holders of a medical marijuana card or physician’s written recommendation, and adults aged 21 or older who can show valid ID cards as proof of age. They can only sell up to eight ounces of cannabis to any individual per month. This can include all forms of medical and adult-use cannabis, including plant clones, edible cannabis and other cannabis product types, and cannabis paraphernalia.
Licensed retailers must add to the label of each cannabis item to be sold the following:
The name of the retail shop
The name of the product
The name of the purchaser who will be responsible for the product
Allowed operating hours for cannabis retail shops in Alameda County are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The entrance must have prominent signage stating that, except for holders of a medical marijuana card or physician’s written certification, individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from entering. There must also be a warning that the use or consumption of cannabis on the premises is forbidden.
All activities must be done indoors within the registered facility. Every sale must be logged. The licensee must ensure the removal of litter from the inside and the outside surroundings of the shop, including public sidewalks, up to a perimeter of 100 feet.
All county cannabis retail licensees must comply with all the county rules that are common with combined cannabis operation, cultivation, manufacturing, and delivery licensees.
Medical or adult-use cannabis delivery in Alameda County is legal in conformance with the MAUCRSA of the State of California, subject to the Alameda County Code of Ordinances Chapter 6.108. To apply for a county cannabis delivery operator permit from the CDA, the applicant must hold a county cannabis retailer license and operate a physical retail shop.
The following fees are charged for the county cannabis delivery operator licenses:
Cannabis delivery license application fee: $2,400
Cannabis delivery license renewal fee: $1,100
Cannabis delivery is only allowed to be made by licensed cannabis delivery operators to holders of a medical marijuana card or physician’s written certification, and individuals who are 21 years old and above who can show valid proof of age. Delivery can only be made from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
During delivery, the licensed delivery operator personnel must have with them a copy of the licensee’s retail and delivery operator licenses, as well as each employee’s license, and the delivery request. The vehicle used for delivery must not bear any identifying marks related to cannabis. The licensee must ensure the security of the cannabis, the vehicle, and the personnel.
To get a medical marijuana card in Alameda County requires an application to the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program (MMICP) of the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD). The applicant must be 18 years old or above and have written documentation from a physician certifying a diagnosis of any of the following medical conditions for which medical marijuana treatment is appropriate:
Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Persistent muscle spasms
Chronic medical symptoms that:
limit the patient’s life activities radically
considerably affect the patient’s mental and physical health and safety
The applicant must complete the application form, including the information for a caregiver if needed. The applicant and caregiver must then make an appointment with the:
Alameda County Public Health Department
1100 San Leandro Blvd.
San Leandro, CA 94577
The patient and caregiver must go to the appointment together with the physician’s certification, each one’s government-issued photo ID, and each one’s proof of Alameda County residency. Their photos will be taken at the ACPHD, and the physician will be contacted for verification.
The patient and caregiver must each pay $100. If they provide proof of being MediCal beneficiaries, their fee will be reduced to $50. The medical marijuana card issued by the state will then be released.
Alameda County is not imposing any local tax on commercial cannabis businesses.
Excluding local taxes, the State of California has earned a total of $4.4 billion from January 2018 to November 16, 2022, from cannabis tax revenues as the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration’s (CDTFA) data shows. From that figure, excise taxes make up $2.2 billion, sales taxes make up $1.7 billion, and cultivation taxes up to June 2022 make up $500.3 million. Taxes on cultivation were lifted in July 2022.
Medical cannabis was legalized in Alameda County in 1996 by the Compassionate Use Act, and adult-use cannabis was legalized in 2016 by MAUCRSA.
Data from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Explorer page shows that in 1995, there were 32 marijuana possession arrests and 16 marijuana manufacturing or sales arrests, totaling 48 arrests for marijuana offenses. In 2020, this decreased to a total of 32 arrests for marijuana offenses, with 27 marijuana possession arrests and five marijuana manufacturing or sales arrests.
There were 138 DUI arrests in 2001, the earliest available data. This increased to 139 DUI arrests in 2020.