Contra Costa County Cannabis Overview

  1. California Cannabis
  2. Contra Costa County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Contra Costa County?

It is legal to cultivate cannabis in Contra Costa County. California has legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational uses. The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) established the framework for the regulation of cannabis commerce statewide. A provision in California's marijuana laws empower local municipalities to approve or prohibit cannabis business operations within their jurisdictions. Local municipal authorities that approved cannabis business operations are also able to impose local taxes on the businesses. MAUCRSA established the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) to regulate the medical and recreational use of marijuana in California. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) was empowered to oversee the medical marijuana program in the state as well as regulate cannabis manufacturing business operations. Cannabis cultivation in California was licensed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). In 2021, all cannabis commercial activities were consolidated under a single department - the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). All commercial cannabis cultivators in California must be licensed to cultivate cannabis commercially by the DCC.

The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act made it legal for adults, aged 21 years and over, to cultivate marijuana for personal consumption. Eligible persons, in compliance with local ordinances, may grow up to six plants in enclosed and secured accessory structures or inside their private residences. Initially, following the passage of the Act, commercial cannabis activities were prohibited in Contra Costa County. However, upon holding numerous public hearings, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors promulgated ordinances that regulate the cultivation of cannabis in unincorporated areas of the county. The Board also sets out the standards that all license holders must comply with regarding commercial cannabis activities. Any individual or entity that wants to cultivate cannabis commercially in Contra Costa unincorporated areas must procure and maintain a commercial cannabis health permit from County Health Services. To obtain a permit, complete the Commercial Cannabis Health Permit Application form (english|spanish) and submit it to the County Environmental Health Division along with the requisite documents and a $597 application fee. The supporting documents to be submitted depend on if it is a first-time application or a renewal application. Cultivation permits in Contra Costa County cost $1,492 for outdoor permits and $1,990 for indoor permits and must be renewed annually before June 30 to remain valid.

Local municipalities in Contra Costa County are authorized by the Adult Use of Cannabis Act to authorize or prohibit cannabis commerce in their jurisdictions. Each of the incorporated cities in Contra Costa County set its regulations on commercial cannabis activities that may occur in their cities. These incorporated cities in Contra Costa County - Antioch, Brentwood, Clayton, Concord, Town of Danville, El Cerrito, Hercules, Lafayette, Martinez, Orinda, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Pablo, and Walnut Creek- all permit the cultivation of cannabis within their jurisdictions.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Contra Costa County?

The manufacturing of cannabis-infused products is legal in Contra Costa County. The commercial manufacture of cannabis-infused products was legalized in California in 2016 when the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act was approved by voters. The Act also made it legal for licensed manufacturers to extract, process, and infuse cannabis for commercial purposes. Provisions of the Act granted local control to local authorities to regulate or prohibit cannabis commerce in their jurisdictions. All cannabis product manufacturers in California must apply for and receive manufacturer licenses from the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC).

The County Board of Supervisors issued the rules, under which individuals and entities can legally manufacture cannabis products in Contra Costa. To legally manufacture cannabis products in Contra Costa County, the individual or entity must

  • Be iComplyh all state and local laws and regulations
  • Possess a valid state cannabis manufacturer license
  • Possess a valid county business license
  • Ensure no volatile solvents are used in the manufacturing processes
  • Ensure all manufacturing operations occur at the site location listed on the permit

Cannabis product manufacturers in Contra Costa County must obtain commercial cannabis health permits to maintain their statutory rights. Commercial cannabis health permits are issued by the Contra Costa County Environmental Health Division. Interested persons may submit their completed Commercial Cannabis Health Permit Application form english|spanish to the Division, along with their supporting documents and the requisite fees. The supporting documents required by the Division will depend on if the application is first-time or being renewed. Applicants must also submit the $597 commercial cannabis health permit application fee with their applications. The Division will conduct an inspection of the applicant's facilities if the application is complete. Cannabis manufacturing permits in Contra Costa cost $2,985 annually. Shared-use cannabis manufacturing facilities in Contra Costa cost $497 annually.

Cannabis product manufacturers in incorporated cities in Contra Costa County must ensure they adhere to all local laws and regulations for cannabis commerce. The Environmental Health Division will conduct inspections of all cannabis manufacturing facilities prior to granting the final approvals.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Contra Costa County?

Costa Contra County approves the retail of cannabis and cannabis products in the county by licensed retail outlets. The retail of cannabis to eligible persons in California was legalized in 2016 by the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act. The Medicinal and Adult Use of Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) establishes a consistent licensing regime for medical and recreational business operations. Control on whether to allow the retail sales of marijuana within an incorporated city or municipality is retained by the local authority. Persons or entities that wish to sell recreational cannabis to end-users in Contra Costa County will need to obtain retail licenses from the Department of Cannabis Control.

The County Board of Supervisors promulgated ordinances to regulate the licensing of businesses that wish to retail cannabis in the unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County. Businesses that wish to retail cannabis in Contra Costa County must also adhere to local regulations. These regulations include

  • The prominent display of a sign with a warning statement
  • The separation of the waiting area and retail area in a storefront retailer establishment
  • The prohibition of the sale of non-cannabis products, such as alcohol and tobacco

Individuals or entities that apply to sell cannabis in Contra Costa County must obtain commercial cannabis health permits from the County Environmental Health Division. To receive a health permit, complete and submit the Commercial Cannabis Health Permit Application form english|spanish. Applicants must include the appropriate supporting documents (initial|renewal) and the $597 application fee. Retail cannabis health permits cost $2,985 for either storefront or non-storefront (delivery only) retailer licenses. Permits must be renewed annually for the holder to retain their statutory rights. A storefront retailer will need to obtain a delivery license to be able to offer delivery services to its customers.

Incorporated cities and municipalities in Contra Costa County have their own regulations for the licensing of retail cannabis stores in their jurisdictions. Retail stores are required to comply with all state and local regulations regarding cannabis commerce.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Contra Costa County?

The delivery of cannabis is legal in Contra Costa County. Cannabis can be delivered from retail locations in unincorporated areas of the county to any location in an unincorporated area of the county. Deliveries can also be received in unincorporated areas in the county from locations outside of unincorporated areas of the county. The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation Act (MAUCRSA) makes delivery of marijuana for medical or adult-use legal statewide unless prohibited by local ordinances. Cannabis deliveries can be from retail storefronts or delivery-only services. Deliveries must be received at the physical location indicated when ordering the delivery and can not be redirected. In March 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 as a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order classified cannabis business operations as essential and awarded them numerous dispensations. This facilitated the delivery of cannabis and cannabis products to consumers when other businesses were unable to do so.

Any person that wants to deliver cannabis and cannabis products in Contra Costa County must possess a commercial cannabis health permit from the County Environmental Health Division. Complete the Commercial Cannabis Health Permit Application form english|spanish and submit it with the relevant supporting documents and a $597 application fee. Retail stores that wish to make deliveries must also possess delivery health permits. A retail delivery permit costs $2,958 and there is a $398 surcharge to permit out of county deliveries.

Incorporated cities and municipalities in Contra Costa County allow delivery of cannabis and cannabis products to both medical and recreational users. Cannabis delivery services in incorporated areas and municipalities can also deliver to locations outside their jurisdictions in Contra Costa County.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Contra Costa County

The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 legalized medical cannabis in California and created the state medical marijuana program. The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act repealed and replaced this Act to update its provisions in line with the legalization of recreational cannabis. Patients with debilitating medical conditions can register with the medical marijuana program and receive medical marijuana identification cards. Patients with valid medical marijuana identification cards (MMICs) may legally possess up to;

  • 8 ounces of dried cannabis leaves
  • 8 g of concentrate
  • 6 mature plants
  • 12 immature plants

The following are the medical conditions eligible to receive an MMIC in Contra Costa County are:

  • AIDS
  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine
  • Persistent muscle spasms, such as spasms caused by Multiple Sclerosis
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Any other chronic or persistent medical condition deemed to limit the patient's ability to conduct major life activities

To register for the medical marijuana program in Contra Costa County, eligible patients must book appointments with the Contra Costa County Health Department. Applicants may call (925) 313-1126 to book appointments with Vital Registration. Applicants must bring the following to their appointments;

  • Completed Medical Marijuana Program Application (english|spanish) form.
  • A written statement (english|spanish) from a physician (M.D. or D.O.) affirming the patient's condition and recommending cannabis use as appropriate.
  • Valid government-issued photo ID card
  • Proof of residency in Contra Costa County
  • $100 fee (beneficiaries of Medi-Cal receive 50% discount on fees)

The patient’s information and pictures will be forwarded to the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) for verification and approval. If the application is approved, the patient's medical marijuana ID card will be sent to Contra Costa Vital Registration, where the patient can receive it. Information on the MMIC Program in Contra Costa County is available from:

Contra Costa County Public Health Vital Registration and MMIC Program

Suite 220

10 Douglas Drive

Martinez, CA 94553

Patients that require primary caregivers must ensure their caregivers complete the Caregiver Section of the application forms. Patients can assign caregivers when they are making their applications or at a later date. Primary caregivers in Contra Costa County must be at least 18 years and must provide proof of this and of residency in California.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Contra Costa County?

Unlike most of the Bay Area, Contra Costa County was slow to adopt marijuana regulations and allow cannabis commerce. The Board of Supervisors even adopted ordinances to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries in 2008 and recreational cannabis commerce in 2017. However, the overwhelming support of cannabis legalization by residents of the county ensured that these measures were temporary.

Cannabis commerce has been authorized in Contra Costa County since 2018 and revenues have increased significantly over the years. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) reports that county cannabis sales have generally increased since 2018. In Contra Costa County, reported cannabis sales rose from about $15 million in 2018 to $25.4 million in 2019 and to over $82 million by the end of 2020. Sales figures for the first three quarters of 2021 show cannabis sales in Contra Costa County to be at about $87 million. An analysis of the sales figures indicated a 483% increase in cannabis sales revenue between 2018 and 2021.

Cannabis legalization has also led to job creation with an estimated 67,000 direct or indirect jobs accredited to cannabis cultivation, manufacture, and sales in California. Cannabis products sold in Contra Costa County must be grown and processed in Contra Costa County, ensuring local jobs remain in the county.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Contra Costa County

Marijuana-related crimes have dropped drastically across the State of California, since the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2016. Prior to the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2016, only patients (or caregivers) with valid medical marijuana ID cards could legally possess cannabis in Contra Costa County. However, adults aged 21 years and older can legally possess cannabis, provided the quantities are within the statutory limits.

The California Department of Justice (CDOJ) collates annual arrest figures for crimes in the state, as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. An analysis of marijuana arrests since the legalization of recreational cannabis indicates a downward trend in arrests related to marijuana by the Costa Contra County Sheriff Department. There were a total of six arrests for marijuana-related crimes in 2020, which represented a 40% decrease from the previous year. Arrests for marijuana-related crimes dropped 62% between 2016 and 2017 (the first year of recreational cannabis legalization). Total marijuana-related arrests fell by 86.7% between 2016 and 2020, establishing a downward trend over the five-year period.

Contra Costa County Cannabis Overview