Yes, it is legal to cultivate cannabis in unincorporated areas of Butte County but only for limited personal use or large-scale medical use as set by Ordinance No. 4202 and Ordinance No. 4203. The commercial cultivation of recreational cannabis is prohibited in unincorporated areas of the county. This is because the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) of the State of California allows local governments to create their own regulations covering cannabis. However, in incorporated areas of the county, the rules differ, as discussed below.
In unincorporated areas of Butte County, the area for either personal home cultivation of cannabis or larger-scale medical cannabis cultivation must be:
More than 1,000 feet from a church, school, park, youth facility, or residential treatment facility
More than 600 feet from the bus stop of a school
More than 50 feet from any occupied residence
A medical cannabis cultivation site must be one continuous piece of land. If the entire premises measure half an acre or less, cultivation can only be done indoors in a structure measuring not more than 120 square feet. The marijuana plant canopy from edge to edge must not exceed 50 square feet.
If the entire premises measure at least half an acre but less than five acres, cultivation can be either indoors or outdoors. The marijuana plant canopy must not exceed 50 square feet from edge to edge.
If the entire premises measure at least five acres but less than 10 acres, the marijuana plant canopy must not exceed 100 square feet from edge to edge and may be grown either indoors or outdoors.
If the entire premises measure 10 acres or more, planting can be done indoors or outdoors, and the marijuana plant canopy from edge to edge must not exceed 150 square feet.
Unless waived by the Director of the Butte County Department of Development Services, medical cannabis cultivation areas must comply with the following:
For areas measuring half an acre or less, the cultivation area must be 15 feet from any boundary.
For areas measuring more than half an acre but less than five acres, the cultivation area must be 50 feet from any boundary.
For areas measuring more than five acres but less than 10 acres, the cultivation area must be 75 feet from any boundary.
For areas measuring 10 acres or more, the cultivation area must be 150 feet from any boundary.
If cannabis is grown outdoors in unincorporated areas of Butte County and the cultivation site has an area of five acres or less, the entire area must be enclosed by a fence that is six feet high, and the plants must not be allowed to exceed the height of the fence. The cultivation site must not be visible from outside the fence.
According to California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) of 2016 or Proposition 64, adults aged 21 and older are allowed to do personal cultivation of recreational cannabis in their homes for a maximum of six plants. They may do the cultivation indoors or outdoors for as long as these are secured from unauthorized access by minors and are shielded from public sight.
In unincorporated areas of Butte County, personal cultivation of cannabis is allowed only for individuals who have been county residents for at least a year. They must either own the residence where cannabis will be cultivated or have the approval of the property owner. If the premises measure less than five acres, the personal cultivation of cannabis must be done only indoors.
There are separate regulations in some incorporated areas of Butte County. In the cities of Chico and Paradise, only personal home cultivation of cannabis for both medical and non-medical use is allowed, and this is limited to indoor cultivation.
The City of Oroville allows the establishment of licensed cannabis cultivation businesses and micro businesses in addition to the personal cultivation of medical and non-medical cannabis. All cultivation must only be done indoors, though.
Yes, it is legal to manufacture cannabis in unincorporated areas of Butte County, but according to Ordinance No. 4202 and Ordinance No. 4203, only homegrown cannabis cultivators aged 21 and older are allowed to process the cannabis they have grown. Commercial cannabis manufacturing is prohibited.
There are separate regulations in certain incorporated areas of Butte County. The cities of Chico and Oroville allow licensed cannabis manufacturing businesses in addition to the personal processing of personal homegrown cannabis. In the cities of Gridley and Paradise, cannabis processing businesses are prohibited.
No, it is not legal to sell cannabis by retail in unincorporated areas of Butte County. The establishment of licensed dispensaries is prohibited. Personal cultivators of homegrown cannabis are prohibited from selling the cannabis they have grown and processed. The same is true in the cities of Biggs, Gridley, and Paradise.
In the cities of Chico and Oroville, however, the establishment of licensed cannabis storefronts or non-storefront retail businesses is allowed. They must comply with the requirements of Proposition 64 to sell only to consumers aged 21 and older in addition to medical marijuana cardholders.
Yes, the delivery of cannabis by a licensed retailer from outside the county to a customer aged 21 and older located in the unincorporated area of Butte County is allowed, even if the customer is not a medical marijuana cardholder.
Regulations can differ in some incorporated areas of Butte County. In the cities of Chico and Oroville, licensed cannabis storefronts or non-storefront retail businesses are allowed to deliver cannabis to consumers aged 21 and older. In the cities of Biggs, Gridley, and Paradise, on the other hand, cannabis delivery is prohibited.
In accordance with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 in California, residents of Butte County can get a medical marijuana card once registered in the Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) program of the California Department of Public Health.
A patient must be examined by a doctor and provide the doctor with a signed Consent for the Release of Confidential Information Form. The examining physician will complete the California Department of Public Health form CDPH-9044 and issue a Physician’s Declaration if the patient has one of the following qualifying medical conditions for medical cannabis treatment:
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
Persistent muscle spasms
Chronic medical symptoms considerably that are affecting the patient’s physical and mental health and safety
Chronic medical symptoms that are radically limiting the patient’s important life activities
The patient must then complete the Application Form, including details for a caregiver if necessary. It is then necessary to schedule an in-person appointment with the Butte County Public Health Vital Records Office by calling 530-552-3996. The patient and caregiver must appear for the appointment because that is when their photograph will be taken.
The patient and caregiver must bring the following in addition to all the completed forms and Physician’s Declaration to the appointment:
Valid photo ID issued by the government
Proof of residence in Butte County
The $57 application fee for each patient and caregiver
Medi-Cal card, if applicable, to get a 50% fee discount
CMSP card, if applicable, to waive the fee
The patient and caregiver will be contacted by the Butte County Public Health Vital Records Office once the medical marijuana card is ready to be picked up.
Cannabis businesses are not allowed in unincorporated areas of Butte County. In incorporated areas of the county, licensed cultivation businesses are allowed only in the City of Oroville. Licensed manufacturing businesses and licensed retail dispensaries are only allowed in the cities of Chico and Oroville. Any revenue that Butte County will earn from cannabis can only come from any shares it has from these sources and any allocations from state cannabis revenues.
Nevertheless, that share can be significant. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) reports that as of November 16, 2022, the state tax revenue for the third quarter of 2022 totaled $242 million coming from $128.4 million of cannabis excise taxes and $113.6 million of cannabis sales taxes. That figure still did not include local taxes imposed by local governments.
In the previous quarter of 2022, the total state tax revenues from cannabis were higher at $299.8 million. That was because, in addition to cannabis excise taxes of $146.7 million and cannabis sales taxes of $125.6 million, there was $27.5 million that came from cannabis cultivation taxes which were discontinued in July 2022.
California has earned a total of $4.4 billion in cannabis state tax revenues from January 2018 to November 16, 2022. This includes the previous cultivation taxes at $500.3 million, excise taxes at $2.2 billion, and sales taxes at $1.7 billion.
Medical cannabis was legalized in 1996 with the Compassionate Use Act. According to data from the Butte County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, arrests for marijuana possession increased from 26 in 1995 to 51 in 2020. Arrests for marijuana manufacturing and sales decreased from 36 in 1995 to 16 in 2020.