California laws allow the commercial cultivation of cannabis for both recreational and medicinal use. The Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act legalized the cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption by adults aged 21 years and over. The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) amended the existing medical marijuana law and created a framework for the statewide regulation of cannabis cultivation. In 2021, all activities related to commercial cannabis operations were centralized under the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). Prior to this, different departments had oversight over certain aspects of the legal cannabis industry in California. However, California law also gave control for the authorization of commercial cannabis operations in local jurisdictions to the local authorities. This enabled local councils to decide for themselves if they wanted to have commercial cannabis business operations in their jurisdictions. Of the 58 counties in California, 31 (53%) allow commercial cultivation, manufacture, and retail of cannabis. Fresno County is not one of them.
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors was empowered to determine if commercial cannabis operations would be allowed or prohibited in unincorporated areas of the county. Over 52% of residents of Fresno County voted against Proposition 64, implying that most residents of the county were not pro-cannabis. As such, the Board issued ordinance code no. 17-001 which made the commercial cultivation of cannabis illegal in unincorporated areas of Fresno County. The commercial cultivation of cannabis is not legal in Fresno County.
Incorporated cities and municipalities in Fresno County are each entitled to set their own regulations and ordinance regarding cannabis commerce in their jurisdictions. Of the 15 incorporated cities in Fresno County, only Fresno City has voted to allow cannabis commercial business operations in its jurisdiction.
The Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act made it legal for adults over 21 years to purchase and consume manufactured cannabis-infused products. The Medicinal And Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) set up the procedures for regulating and licensing cannabis business operations. However, the control of approving or denying the licensing of commercial cannabis business operations in a jurisdiction was left to the local authorities.
The manufacturing of cannabis-infused products is not legal in the unincorporated areas of Fresno County. Consequent to the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, the County Board of Supervisors issued ordinance code no. 17-001. This regulation made it illegal for anyone to cultivate, manufacture, or retail cannabis or cannabis products in these areas. A majority of Fresno County residents (52.9%) voted against Proposition 64, and this informed the Board's decision to prohibit cannabis manufacturing and other commercial activities in its jurisdictions.
California statutes allow incorporated cities and towns in Fresno to legislate cannabis businesses operations for themselves.
The retail of cannabis by licensed retail outlets was legalized in California, with the passing of the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act. The framework for licensing cannabis business operations was established in 2018 under the Medicinal And Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. California cannabis legislation also enabled local authorities to decide whether cannabis businesses could operate in their jurisdiction and several counties in the state opted not to do so.
The County Board of Supervisors issued ordinance code no. 17-001, making the cultivation, manufacture, or retail of cannabis illegal in incorporated areas of the county. Fresno County residents mostly voted against the legalization of cannabis and this may have informed the decision of the Board to prohibit cannabis commerce. Incorporated cities and towns in Fresno County are allowed to regulate cannabis commerce in their jurisdictions and a majority, so far, prohibit the retail of cannabis products. Fresno City voted in 2020 to allow cannabis commerce and the Office of Cannabis Oversight is currently formulating regulations towards this.
Cannabis can be legally delivered to locations in Fresno County. The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation Act (MAUCRSA) legalized the delivery of marijuana for medical or adult-use statewide and the Bureau of Cannabis Control issued regulations to this effect. As such, a licensed delivery service in any county in California may deliver cannabis and cannabis-infused products to locations in Fresno County. The Governor of California issued Executive Order N-33-20 on March 19, 2020, in reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and general lockdown in place. The Order categorized the California cannabis industry as "essential", enabling it to receive special workforce dispensations, that enabled deliveries. A Superior Court judge in Fresno County dismissed a lawsuit challenging the delivery of cannabis to communities that had banned commercial cannabis activities.
Cannabis delivery is legal to incorporated cities and municipalities in Fresno County, in accordance with cannabis regulations in the state.
Medical marijuana was legalized in California in 1996 after the Compassionate Use Act was approved by voters in the state. SB420 amended the Act in 2003 to introduce a patient registry and the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act replaced it in 2018. The Medical Marijuana Program was created to enable patients with debilitating medical conditions to have access to cannabis as an alternative treatment, upon recommendation by their physicians. Participants in the medical marijuana program are assigned medical marijuana identification cards, which afford them their statutory rights. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved regulations to implement the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program in the county in 2008.
To qualify to receive a medical marijuana identification card, the patient must be diagnosed with one of the following debilitating medical conditions:
To complete the application procedure for a medical marijuana ID card in Fresno County, an applicant must:
Applicants must complete the Medical Marijuana Program Application form (english|spanish) and submit it to their local Department of Public Health. The Fresno County Department of Public Health is located at:
1221 Fulton Street,
Fresno, CA 93775-1867
Submissions for medical marijuana identification cards can only be made on appointment; all applicants are required to call (559) 600-3434 to book appointments to submit their applications. On the day of their scheduled appointments, applicants must bring along their completed application form, the required supporting documents, and their application fees. A medical marijuana identification card application fee is $107 (Medi-Cal recipients pay $49). Appointments are available bi-weekly at the Department office on Fridays from 8.00 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.
The patient's application will be processed by the Department, which will include verification of the written recommendation with the physician. The physician's license will also be verified with their professional board to ascertain their eligibility to provide the recommendation. An approval or denial notification will be sent to the applicant within 30 days of the Department receiving the application. The patient's (or caregiver's) information will be submitted to the State Program and the identification card will be available within 5 days. Applicants can pick up their ID cards from the Fresno Department or arrange to have them sent by mail. Applicants who are denied can appeal to the State Program by completing the Denial Appeals form (english|spanish) and submitting them within 30 days of receiving the notification.
Fresno County is among the most conservative counties in the State of California, with regards to cannabis legalization. 52.9% of the county voted against Proposition 64 - the initiative that led to the legalization of recreational cannabis in California. Consequently, the County Board has prohibited all forms of cannabis commerce in unincorporated areas of the county.
The California Department of Tax and Fees Administration (CDTFA) releases figures on cannabis sales revenues for the different counties in the state. Details for Fresno County show total taxable sales for 2018 (2Q) to be $1,2981,833 and $3,230,049 for 2019 (3Q). Total taxable cannabis sales for 2020 (4Q) was $8,070,511 and $7,690,904 for 2021 (3Q).
The legalization of cannabis in California saw a drop in marijuana-related arrests across the state, especially in counties and cities that allowed cannabis commerce. However, Fresno County, which prohibits all forms of cannabis commerce in unincorporated areas of the county, is not one of these counties. Following the legalization of recreational cannabis, adults in Fresno County may possess acceptable quantities of cannabis and cannabis products. However, the cultivation, manufacture, and sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products are prohibited in unincorporated areas of the county.
Arrest figures from the Fresno County Sheriff Department as part of the FBI Uniform Crime Report show a total of 129 cannabis-related arrests in 2016. Of this number, 102 arrests were for illegal sales/manufacture and 27 were for possession. Cannabis-related arrests fell by 73.6% (to 34) in 2017, following the legalization of recreational cannabis, with arrests for illegal sales falling to 11(-89.2%). In 2020, there were 81 cannabis-related arrests by the Sheriff's Department with 79 for possession and only 2 for illegal sales/manufacture.
While there was an initial drop in cannabis-related arrests in the county after legalization, there has been an upward trend ever since. Cannabis-related arrests increased to 36 (+5.9%) in 2018, 47 (+24.4%) in 2019, and 81 (+72.3%) in 2020. Further analysis indicated that arrests for cannabis possession have facilitated this upward trend. While arrests for sales/manufacture have consistently dropped (102 in 2016; 2 in 2020), cannabis possession arrests have increased from 23 in 2017 to 79 in 2020.