Cannabis cultivation is legal in Marin County only within certain limitations. Cannabis cultivation businesses are illegal in unincorporated areas of the county, according to Chapter 5.90 of the County Code. This is possible because California’s Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) enables counties and municipalities to customize their own cannabis regulations.
In other areas of Marin County, according to the California Department of Cannabis Control’s data as of November 2022, cannabis cultivation businesses are only allowed in the city of Novato. The city’s Ordinance no. 1655 allows only two commercial cultivation licenses, with all growing to be done indoors.
California’s Proposition 64 or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) of 2016 legalized the personal cultivation of cannabis for personal recreational use by adults aged 21 and older, up to six plants, whether outdoors or indoors, provided this is kept away from public view and secured from children’s access. Chapter 6.83 of the Marin County Code limits this to medical use and to indoor cultivation only.
Cannabis manufacturing is legal in Marin County only in specific instances. Cannabis manufacturing businesses are illegal in unincorporated areas of Marin County, as stipulated in Chapter 5.90 of the County Code. Elsewhere in the county, data from the California Department of Cannabis Control shows that as of November 2022, cannabis manufacturing businesses are only allowed in the cities of Novato and San Rafael.
Novato’s Ordinance no. 1655 allows only two commercial manufacturing licenses. In San Rafael’s Cannabis Program, up to 10 commercial manufacturing licenses are allowed.
Cannabis retail is legal in Marin County, with limitations. Chapter 5.90 of the Marin County Code stipulates that only medical cannabis delivery-only retailer (MCDORe) licenses are allowed in unincorporated areas of the county, to be granted by the county’s Community Development Agency. This means the retailer’s facility must be closed to the public and sales can be done only by delivery strictly to purchasers who are medical marijuana cardholders. Chapter 5.90 allows all types of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products except for edible cannabis.
Only four MCDORe licenses will be issued by the county. The MCDORe facilities can only be located in the following commercial and industrial zoning districts:
Retail Business (C1)
Planned Commercial (CP)
Administrative and Professional (AP)
Planned Office (OP)
Industrial Planned (IP)
A MCDORe facility must be more than 600 feet away from the boundary of a school, daycare facility, playground, or youth center. There must be no signage advertising cannabis-related activity. Facility owners must not allow any cannabis odor to be detectable beyond facility walls.
The MCDORe facility is allowed to operate seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Medical cannabis products allowed for sale exclude cannabis-infused food products.
In other areas of Marin County, information from the California Department of Cannabis Control shows that only the town of Fairfax allows cannabis retail shops as of November 2022. Chapter 5.56 of the Fairfax Municipal Code specifies that it only allows a total of two licenses for the following:
A retail storefront for medical cannabis only to be sold exclusively to medical marijuana cardholders
A delivery-only retailer for both medical and recreational cannabis to be sold to either medical marijuana cardholders or adults aged 21 and older
A licensed medical cannabis storefront in Fairfax is allowed to apply to become a delivery retailer for medical and recreational cannabis, as well. It can only sell medical cannabis in its storefront, though, to medical marijuana cardholders.
Fairfax permits the sale of all types of medical and recreational cannabis allowed by MAUCRSA. Chapter 13 of that law specifies that edible cannabis must contain not more than 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for each serving.
Medical cannabis delivery is legal in Marin County since the MAUCRSA forbids counties to deter medical marijuana cardholders from receiving deliveries of their cannabis medication.
Marin County Code’s Chapter 5.90 permits holders of the MCDORe license in unincorporated areas of the county to deliver the medical cannabis they sell only to the residence or business address of their clients who must be medical marijuana cardholders. Chapter 5.90 also permits the delivery of medical cannabis to medical marijuana cardholders living in unincorporated areas of the county by licensed retailers located outside these areas.
Delivery vehicles must not advertise the name of the license holder or any indication of cannabis-related activity. No cannabis odor must be detected outside the delivery vehicles.
The California Department of Cannabis Control reports that as of November 2022, delivery of recreational cannabis to consumers is allowed only in Fairfax, Novato, and San Rafael. Novato’s Ordinance no. 1655 does not limit the number of licensed delivery-only retailers allowed. San Rafael's Cannabis Program allows only up to eight delivery-only retailer licenses.
Marin County residents can apply for a medical marijuana card through the Medical Marijuana ID Card Program under the Vital Statistics Office of the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services. The application packet with the application form may be acquired from the Vital Statistics Office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, at:
10 N. San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA
The patient must first be diagnosed by their primary care physician to have one of the following medical conditions, for which the doctor recommends management through the use of cannabis:
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
Persistent muscle spasms
Chronic medical symptoms that considerably affect physical and mental health and safety
Chronic medical symptoms that radically limit important life activities
The physician can make the certification and recommendation through a document written on a professional letterhead or through the Written Documentation of Patient’s Medical Records. The patient must sign and leave with the doctor the Medical Release Form.
The next step is for the patient to fill up the application form. If the patient needs a primary caregiver, the section for this must be filled up, as well. Patients who are minors need a primary caregiver to purchase medical cannabis. Some adult patients may require this assistance, too.
The patient or primary caregiver must then call the Vital Statistics Office to set a face-to-face appointment. Both the patient and the primary caregiver must be present for the appointment. In addition to the completed application form and physician’s certification, each must bring:
Proof of identity through a valid government-issued photo ID such as a U.S. passport or California State driver’s license
Proof of Marin County residency and address
Patients and primary caregivers must pay $100 for a medical marijuana card. A 50% discount is available for patients covered by the Medi-Cal program while no fees apply to patients covered by the CMSP.
The Vital Statistics Office will call the primary care physician named in the application to verify the certification. A photo of the patient and primary caregiver will then be taken and submitted online along with the application information to the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). The medical marijuana card will be sent to the Vital Statistics Office for pickup.
Marin County benefits from tax revenues earned only from the limited types and number of cannabis businesses allowed in its unincorporated areas, towns, and cities.
The third quarter of 2022 up to November 16 saw $242 million in state tax collections, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). This total included $113.6 million in cannabis sales taxes and $128.4 million in cannabis excise taxes. County and municipal tax receipts are not included in the total.
Revenues from cannabis state taxes totaled $299.8 million in the second quarter of 2022. This was made up of $27.5 million in cannabis cultivation taxes, $146.7 million in cannabis excise taxes, and $125.6 million in cannabis sales taxes. However, cultivation taxes were eliminated in July 2022.
Cannabis sales generated $4.4 billion in total state taxes between January 2018 and November 16, 2022. This sum consists of $500.3 million from prior cultivation taxes, $1.7 billion from cannabis sales taxes, and $2.2 billion from cannabis excise taxes.
Cannabis businesses were first allowed in Marin County in 2017. According to data reported by the Marin County Sheriff’s Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, in 2016, there were 173 arrests for drug abuse violations in the county, of which six were for marijuana possession and 18 were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. This increased to 257 arrests for drug abuse violations in 2020, of which three were for marijuana possession.
There were 23 DUI arrests in 2016. This decreased to eight in 2020.