Marin County Cannabis Overview

  1. California Cannabis
  2. Marin County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Marin County?

Cannabis cultivation is prohibited in Marin County according to the Marin County Code of Ordinance. Section 6.83.030 of the county code prohibits cannabis businesses or activities, including cultivation, from operating within the unincorporated areas of Marin County. Section 6.83.040 also expressly prohibits the outdoor cultivation of cannabis in Marin County. Note that Proposition 64 legalized cannabis in California but permits counties and towns to enact their own laws to restrict cannabis activities within their jurisdictions.

Outdoor growing of cannabis in Marin County is limited to medicinal cannabis only. The county prohibits personal outdoor cultivation for recreational use and permits indoor recreational cultivation per state law.

In response to Proposition 64, some Marin County cities have varying cannabis laws to the cannabis statutes in the Marin County Code. San Anselmo Town regulates personal cannabis cultivation in the county by restricting personal outdoor cultivation to a maximum of 10 plants for medicinal purposes and 6 plants for recreational purposes. Fairfax City permits indoor and outdoor cultivation with specific regulations within its jurisdiction. Ross Town prohibits outdoor personal cultivation but regulates indoor cannabis cultivation.

Novato City permits indoor cannabis cultivation of up to 6 plants in a residential property, regardless of the number of persons residing on the property. The city permits indoor cultivation within a private residence and a fully enclosed and secure accessory structure. The structure, however, may not be a greenhouse.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Marin County?

No. Pursuant to Section 6.83.030 of the Marin County Code, cannabis manufacturing and any cannabis activity which requires a state license to be issued pursuant to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is prohibited within the unincorporated areas of Marin County. Per Section 5.90.050 of the county code, medicinal commercial cannabis activities requiring a state license under the MAUCRSA (Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act), and as state licensing laws may be amended, are illegal in Marin County.

However, MAUCRSA grants local jurisdictions the right to regulate cannabis businesses as they deem fit. This provision means local jurisdictions can outrightly prohibit all cannabis activities or authorize specific cannabis businesses or activities in their jurisdictions. In 2018, San Rafael City passed a medical cannabis pilot program that authorized 8 manufacturing licenses for manufacturers producing cannabis-infused products. Novato City also permits cannabis manufacturers using non-volatile methods for cannabis manufacturing to operate within its borders.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Marin County?

Yes. Commercial medicinal cannabis retail from premises located in unincorporated areas in Marin County is legal pursuant to the retailers obtaining and maintaining the requisite licenses in accordance with state and county regulations. Note that a medicinal cannabis delivery-only retailer (MCDORe) license is required for retail activities for which the MAUCRSA requires a state M-retailer license. The MCDORe license requires the retailer's premises to be closed to the public and conduct sales exclusively by delivery; hence it is considered a more restrictive license than the M-retailer license.

Per Section 5.9.060 of the Marin County Code, the county may issue up to four MCDORe licenses within the unincorporated areas of Marin County for medicinal cannabis retailers closed to the public and exclusively conducting sales by delivery. According to Section 5.90.061 of the county code, the following restrictions are placed on the location of medicinal cannabis delivery-only retailers:

  • A MCDORe may not be located within the prescribed distances from the following existing uses at the time the license is awarded. The distance must be measured in the same way as prescribed in Section 11362.768(c) of California Health and Safety Code, as updated from time to time. Specifically, the following buffers must be used:
  • Within a 600-foot radius of a school, daycare facility, or youth center, as mandated by California Business and Professions Code Section 26054, as modified from time to time.
  • Within a 600-foot radius of a playground, in addition to the uses mandated by California Business and Professions Code Section 26054.
  • A MCDORe may only be situated in the coastal and non-coastal zoning districts: C1 (Retail Business), CP (Planned Commercial), AP (Admin and Professional), OP (Planned Office), and IP (Industrial Planned).

Cannabis retail outlets exist in several Marin County cities. These cities also enact laws for the operations of cannabis dispensaries. For example, Fairfax City permits storefronts for medicinal dispensaries but limits the permission to only two businesses. Walk-in dispensaries in Fairfax City are prohibited from being located within 600 feet of schools, 300 feet of preschools, daycare centers, or tutoring businesses.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Marin County?

Per Section 6.83.030 of the Marin County Code, cannabis delivery, except for medicinal cannabis only, is prohibited within the unincorporated areas of Marin County. However, the county does not prohibit medicinal cannabis delivery originating from retailers outside of the unincorporated parts of Marin County. Several Marin County cities permit cannabis delivery within their jurisdiction. For instance, San Anselmo Town allows cannabis delivery from businesses outside of the town to the extent permitted by California law, provided such delivery businesses have valid business licenses.

Fairfax City permits commercial delivery of recreational cannabis and stipulates a buffer at least 250 feet from schools and other youth centers. San Rafael City permits delivery businesses for medical and adult-use cannabis, provided the delivery businesses have obtained the requisite licenses. Belvedere, Corte Madera, Larkspur, and Sausalito all allow medical and adult-use cannabis deliveries from duly licensed operators in other jurisdictions.

Also, Mill Valley, Ross, and Tiburon all permit medical cannabis deliveries from duly licensed operators from outside jurisdictions.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Marin County

The Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) Program, administered by the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Vital Statistics, provides seriously ill Marin County residents with an efficient and confidential method of establishing their eligibility for medical marijuana use with law enforcement representatives. The MMIC program is open to both patients and their primary caregivers.

Applications for MMICs in Marin County are by appointment only at the county Office of Vital Statistics. To schedule an appointment with the Office, call (415) 473-3288. You may also contact the office to request an application packet. MMIC application packets can also be obtained in person at 10 N. San Pedro Road (Reception), San Rafael, California, or from the Marin County Office of Vital Statistics website. The office hours are between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

As required by the State of California, at the scheduled appointment, the Office of Vital Statistics in Marin County will verify:

  • The application, including the physician's portion.
  • The applicant's physician is currently licensed by the State of California.
  • The physician has verbally affirmed the recommendation for the patient to use medicinal marijuana.
  • Patients' identification documents in the form of a picture ID: California driver's license or identification card; US passport; or Veteran's Administration identification card.
  • Patients' proof of Marin County residence in the form of a state-issued driver's license; a county identification card with a marin county address; or a recent utility bill, mortgage payment, or rental payment that contains the applicant's address.
  • If relevant, evidence of patients' Medi-Cal eligibility (there is a reduced fee for the Medical Marijuana Card for Medi-Cal patients).

After confirming the information provided, the applicant will be authorized for the Medical Marijuana ID Card Program. The vital statistics office will collect a fee and have a photograph of the applicant taken. The current Medical Marijuana Photo ID Card fee is $100 (Medi-Cal patients pay 50% less). CMSP patients pay no charge.

The picture, Medi-Cal status (if applicable), and expiry date of the Medical Marijuana ID card will be sent to the State of California over a secure online portal. The State of California does not receive any additional identifiable information from the Office of Vital Statistics, such as a person's name and residence.

The State of California will provide a picture ID card that includes the patient's photo, expiry date, ID number, card verification internet address, and contact information for the local Office of Vital Statistics. After receipt from the State of California, a successful applicant may pick up the ID card at the Marin County Office of Vital Statistics.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Marin County?

The cannabis industry in Marin County has positively impacted the economy of the county with contributions from cannabis sales and job opportunities opening up directly in the industry and indirectly across other sectors. In 2018, when recreational cannabis was legalized in California, Marin County generated $14.41 in per capita sales and $3,781,015 in total taxable sales between the second and fourth quarter of 2018.

In 2019, the county accrued $21.96 in per capita sales and $5,746,169 in total taxable sales. The county recorded revenue of $51.86 in per capita sales and $13,508,186 in total taxable sales in the following year. Between the first and third quarter of 2021, Marin County generated $42.14 in per capita sales and $10,866,585 in total taxable sales.

Did Legalizing Cannabis Affect Crime Rate in Marin County?

Marin County has witnessed a declining crime rate for marijuana-related offenses since the sales of adult-use cannabis started in 2018. In 2018, Marin County recorded 15 arrests for DUI offenses, 6 arrests for marijuana possession, and only 7 arrests for marijuana sale. In 2019, the record was 7 arrests for DUI offenses, 2 arrests for marijuana possession, and 8 arrests for marijuana sales. In 2020, the county recorded 8 DUI arrests, 3 marijuana possession arrests, and no marijuana sale arrests.

Note that in the years preceding cannabis sales, the record was 13 DUI arrests, 11 marijuana possession arrests, and 18 marijuana sales arrests in 2017. In 2016, Marin County recorded 23 DUI arrests, 6 marijuana possession arrests, and 18 marijuana sales arrests.

Marin County Cannabis Overview