Humboldt County Cannabis Overview

  1. California Cannabis
  2. Humboldt County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Humboldt County?

Yes. Cannabis Cultivation is legal in Humboldt County pursuant to the applicable state regulations and county ordinances. According to the Humboldt County Ordinance No. 2653, the county does not interfere with a qualified patient's outdoor cultivation of medicinal marijuana for personal use outside the county's coastal zone, provided the cultivation complies with state law and Ordinance No. 2653.

Outdoor medical marijuana cultivation for personal use as an alternative to indoor cultivation in Humboldt County must follow the following requirements:

  • The total canopy size of the medical marijuana cultivated outdoors may not exceed 100 square feet for parcels of up to one acre. Cultivation may also not occur within 20 feet of a property boundary line.
  • The total canopy size of the medical marijuana cultivated outdoors may not exceed 200 square feet for parcels with sizes of between 1 and 5 acres. Cultivation may also not occur within 20 feet of a property boundary line.
  • On parcels bigger than 5 acres, the total plant canopy of medical marijuana cultivated outdoors may not occur within 40 feet of a property boundary line, where the neighboring parcel is less than 5 acres in size. If the neighboring parcel is 5 acres or larger, the cultivation may not occur within 20 feet of a property line.

Humboldt County's regulations for indoor residential cannabis cultivation for personal use include:

  • Medicinal cannabis cultivation in a residence or detached accessory structure must not exceed 10 feet in height or 50 square feet per residence on a parcel.
  • Grow lights for medicinal marijuana cultivation for personal use in detached accessory structures or residences may not exceed 1200 watts in total.
  • Gas products, including butane and carbon dioxide, may not be used for indoor medical marijuana cultivation or processing in a residence or detached accessory structure.
  • Toxic or flammable fumigant may be used for indoor cultivation of medical marijuana in a residence or detached accessory structure, except fumigant use is done in compliance with Section 1703 of the California Fire Code.
  • No odor or auditory or visual evidence of medicinal marijuana may be detectable from the exterior of a residence or structure used for cultivation.
  • No sale, dispensing, or trading of medical marijuana may be conducted on a parcel where residential cultivation of medicinal marijuana occurs.
  • A qualified patient may not cultivate medicinal marijuana for personal use in more than one residence or detached accessory structure.
  • No effluent, waste products, pesticides, or fertilizers may be discharged into septic systems, drains, community sewer systems, water systems, or other drainage systems.
  • Outdoor cannabis cultivation may not be conducted on any parcel in addition to the indoor cultivation provisions described in Ordinance No. 2523

Commercial cannabis cultivation regulations in Humboldt County are contained in Section 55.4.8 of the county code. These requirements include:

  • Outdoor and mixed light commercial medical cannabis cultivation is allowed in zones where general agriculture is principally or conditionally permitted with a zoning clearance certificate, special permit, or use permit. In the coastal zone, outdoor and mixed light commercial cultivation of cannabis for medical use may be located in AE (no parcel size restrictions), RA (parcels of 5 acres or larger), TC, and TPZ (parcels 1 acre or larger) zones.
  • Indoor commercial cannabis growing for medical purposes is allowed inside the coastal zone in zoning districts ML, CG, MB, and MG, subject to a zoning clearance certificate or use permit. Indoor commercial medical cannabis cultivation is allowed with a special permit inside the coastal zone in zoning districts AE and RA (on parcels of 5 acres or more), for cultivation sites of up to 5,000 square feet located in a non-residential structure that existed on January 1, 2016. Electrical power for indoor cultivation operations, including but not limited to illumination, heating, cooling, and ventilation, must be provided by on-grid renewable energy, on-site zero net energy renewable source, or by purchasing carbon offsets for any portion of power, not from renewable sources.
  • Nurseries producing commercial cannabis nursery products for retail sale are permitted. They may be located inside the coastal zone in CG, ML, MG, and MB zoning districts, subject to a use permit.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Humboldt County?

Yes. Cannabis manufacturing is legal in Humboldt County but must comply with all applicable performance standards and criteria set in the Humboldt County Cannabis Code. Per Section 55.4.8.2 of the county code, all cannabis manufacturing activities must be conducted in an enclosed structure but may not be subject to the setback from school bus stops recommended for open-air cultivation activities. Cannabis manufacturing is permitted in Humboldt County as follows:

  • Manufacturing activities requiring flammable extraction may be approved with a special permit in the MH zone and the U zoning district if accompanied by the Industrial General (IG) land use designation. Such manufacturing activities may also be permitted in other zones as specified under Section 55.4.8.2.1(b) and 55.4.8.2.1(b) pursuant to obtaining a conditional use permit.
  • All cannabis manufacturing activities involving flammable extraction must be carried out within a commercial structure. The structure must be located 1,000 feet from the boundary of any residentially zoned area or community planning area, 1,000 feet from any residence on a separately owned parcel, and 600 feet from any school bus stop in use at the time of the project review.
  • Manufacturing activities employing non-flammable extraction may be permitted in the C-3, ML, and MH zones and the U zoning district, if accompanied by an Industrial land use designation. Cannabis manufacturing using a non-flammable extraction method may be permitted in other zoning districts if a special permit is obtained.
  • Manufacturing activities employing infusion may be permitted in the C-2, C-3, CH, MB, ML, MH zones, and the U zoning district, when accompanied by a Commercial or Industrial land use designation, or when previously constructed for a legal industrial or commercial use.
  • Manufacturing operations exclusively based on infusion may be permitted in all zones that permit Cottage Industry activities, provided they adhere to all performance standards outlined in Section 45.1.3 or are permitted under Section 45.1.4 of the Humboldt County Code.
  • Infusion-based cannabis manufacturing activities must be located on roads paved with centerline stripes or paved meeting the Category 4 standard. The county may consider exceptions for persons who have obtained use permits.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Humboldt County?

In accordance with Humboldt County Ordinance No. 2534, medical marijuana dispensaries may operate in the unincorporated parts of the county pursuant to the Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance (CMMLUO). Medical marijuana dispensaries may not be located within a 600-foot radius of a school. Per Section 55.3.11.4 of the county code, medical cannabis dispensaries may only operate between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Medical cannabis dispensaries are only permitted in properly designated zones with valid business licenses, coastal development permits, and conditional use permits issued pursuant to Section 312-3.1 of Ordinance No. 2554. Dispensaries may be located in the following zoning districts: CN, CG, MB, ML, and MG.

Also, per Section 55.3.11.2 of the Humboldt County Ordinance No. 2554, medical cannabis dispensaries may not be operated by persons who have been convicted of a felony in the previous five years. The county code also prohibits the dispensing of medical cannabis to an individual qualified patient more than twice a day. Ingesting, smoking, or otherwise consuming medical cannabis on the premises of a medical cannabis dispensary is prohibited.

In addition, according to Section 55.4.10.1 of Ordinance No 2599, adult-use retail sales facilities are permitted in Humboldt County, subject to the same permit requirements that apply to medical cannabis dispensaries. Section 55.4.10.1 of Ordinance No. 2599 stipulates that all regulations governing the licensing of medical cannabis dispensaries shall apply to adult-use retail sales establishments, except for those limiting sales to medical cannabis.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Humboldt County?

Yes. Cannabis delivery services are permitted to operate within the borders of Humboldt County. Section 55.3.11.1 of Ordinance 2554 stipulates that medical cannabis delivery services may only operate from a store-front dispensary in a commercial or industrial zone contingent upon obtaining the required conditional use permits. Humboldt County cannabis dispensaries functioning as medical cannabis delivery services may not operate from addresses of convenience located in residential zones.

Per Ordinance No. 2554, a dispensary offering medical cannabis delivery does not qualify for an address of convenience. A dispensary or delivery service may not provide medical cannabis to any qualified patient or holder of a medical cannabis recommendation under the age of 18 unless the parent or guardian of the patient has previously consented in writing and is present to accept the delivery of medicinal cannabis.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Humboldt County

The Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) is available to qualified patients and their primary caregivers under the state's medical-marijuana program (MMP).

The MMIC application form is accessible at the reception windows of the Humboldt County Public Health Clinics in Eureka, Garberville, and Willow Creek. The patient or caregiver can fill out their sections of the application, but physician documentation is required before submitting the application.

After completing the patient and physician information, the patient or caregiver must arrange an appointment at the Eureka Public Health office. The application is reviewed for completeness, the fee is collected, and a photograph is taken during the 15 – 20-minute session. The Humboldt County Public Health Department will verify the medical provider's prescription or recommendation by phone or fax and also confirm that the ordering provider is licensed and in good standing with the State Medical Board.

The following are required at the interview or appointment with the county Public Health Department:

  • Proof of identity, such as a U.S. passport and California driver's license.
  • Proof of residency in Humboldt County, such as a current utility bill, rent or mortgage receipt, and car registration.
  • A licensed California doctor's recommendation. Note that the original of the recommendation is required and not a photocopy.
  • Completed application form
  • Application fee. The fee is $100 for non-Medi-Cal beneficiaries or $50 for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Applicants who intend to receive the Medi-Cal discount must take along their Medi-Cal cards. Note that the application fee is nonrefundable and can be paid by cash, money order, or check.

To receive a primary caregiver ID card, the qualified patient with a personal medical marijuana identification card must accompany the designated primary caregiver to the appointment or interview when the caregiver applies for a card. To obtain the primary caregiver ID card, the caregiver must provide:

  • Completed Section 4 of the application form
  • Proof of identity
  • The application fee is $100 for non-Medi-Cal patients and $50 for Medi-Cal patients with Medi-Cal cards.

Typically, MMICs are available to patients or caregivers approximately two weeks after the interview or appointment at the County Public Health Department. For further inquiries about the MMIC, contact the Humboldt County Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program by calling at (707) 268-2188. You may also make an appointment with one of the public health clinics at any of these addresses:

Humboldt County

Department of Public Health

Eureka Clinic

529 I Street

Eureka, CA 95501

Phone: (707) 445-6097

OR

Humboldt County

Department of Public Health

Garberville Clinic

727 Cedar Street

Garberville, CA 95542

Phone: (707) 923-2779

OR

Humboldt County

Department of Public Health

Willow Creek Clinic

77 Walnut Way

Willow Creek, CA 95573

Phone: (530) 629-2410

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Humboldt County?

The cannabis industry in Humboldt County has had a sizable impact on the economy of the county, with increasing fiscal contributions since the sale of recreational cannabis went into effect in 2018 in California. Between the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2018, Humboldt County generated a total of $108.07 in per capita sales and $14,583,251 in taxable sales. In 2019, Humboldt County accrued $193.35 in per capita sales and $25,856,688 in taxable sales. In 2020, revenue figures hit $281.64 in per capita sales and $37,411,097 in total taxable sales.

Data from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is only available for the first three quarters of 2021. In that period, Humboldt County generated $295.20 in per capita sales and $38,629,073 in total taxable sales.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Humboldt County

Humboldt County has witnessed a declining crime rate for marijuana-related offenses since the sales of recreational cannabis began. In 2018, Humboldt County recorded 13 arrests for DUI offenses, 6 arrests for marijuana possession, and only 6 arrests for marijuana sales. In 2019, the record was 22 arrests for DUI offenses, 7 arrests for marijuana possession, and 3 arrests for marijuana sales. In 2020, the county recorded 7 DUI arrests, 8 marijuana possession arrests, and 4 marijuana sale arrests.

Note that in the years preceding adult-use cannabis sales, the record was 12 DUI arrests, 4 marijuana possession arrests, and 6 marijuana sales arrests in 2017. In 2016, Humboldt County recorded 8 DUI arrests, 15 marijuana possession arrests, and 28 marijuana sales arrests. In 2015, the record was 12 DUI arrests, 25 arrests for marijuana possession, and 18 arrests for marijuana sales.

Humboldt County Cannabis Overview