Mendocino County Cannabis Overview

  1. California Cannabis
  2. Mendocino County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Mendocino County?

Yes. Cannabis cultivation is legal in Mendocino County contingent upon the issuance of a permit pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 10A.17 of the Mendocino County Cannabis Ordinance and Chapter 20.242 of the county zoning code. The Mendocino County Zoning Code, Chapter 20.242, authorizes the cultivation of cannabis in certain listed zoning districts, as determined by permit type, subject to an administrative permit, zoning clearance, or minor use permit. Mendocino County exempts qualified patients or residents with identification cards or primary caregivers from the permit requirements stated above, subject to the following conditions:

  • Compliance with the provisions under Section 10A.17.040
  • Any cannabis cultivated by a qualified patient or individual possessing an identity card is for the patient's unique and exclusive use; such cannabis may not be provided, donated, sold, or distributed to any other person. A qualifying patient may cultivate a maximum of 100 square feet of medical cannabis on a legal parcel.
  • Any cannabis cultivated by a primary caregiver must be for the sole and exclusive use of up to two patients who have designated the primary caregiver in writing to provide those services; the primary caregiver may not be compensated for these activities except in accordance with Section 11362.765 (c) of Health and Safety Code. A primary caregiver may cultivate a maximum of 100 square feet of medical cannabis for each patient. A primary caregiver or caregivers may cultivate a maximum of 200 square feet on a legal property. Annual registration with the Agriculture Department is necessary for primary caregivers cultivating more than 100 square feet.

Mendocino County residents desiring to cultivate cannabis for adult use are permitted to do so subject to the following requirements:

  • Compliance with provisions under Section 10A.17.040
  • Cannabis cultivation must occur within or on the grounds of a private dwelling or accessory structure, may take place in one or more cultivation sites, and contain no more than six cannabis plants with a total canopy area of no more than 100 square feet.
  • The cultivation of adult-use cannabis on legal parcels where medical cannabis plants are cultivated in accordance with Chapter 9.31 must not be used to increase the total number of cannabis plants that may be cultivated on the legal parcel. However, up to six of the total allowed number of 25 plants may be set aside for personal cultivation of adult-use cannabis.

Note that cultivation of more than 25 marijuana plants on a legal parcel, regardless of cultivation type (indoor or outdoor), within the unincorporated parts of Mendocino County, is prohibited even if the cultivator is a collective, qualified patient, or primary caregiver. Section 9.31.060 of the Mendocino County Code which stipulates the above, also requires that a copy of current and valid California-issued medical marijuana identification card or physician recommendation be clearly displayed at any premises where medical marijuana is cultivated.

  • Adult-use cannabis cultivation is permitted only indoors on any legal parcel smaller than 10 acres in size.

The restrictions listed below apply to all cultivation of cannabis in any quantity or amount by any entity in Mendocino County:

  • Cannabis cultivation is prohibited within 1,000 feet of a youth-oriented facility, a school, or park in existence at the time a permit is applied for

  • Outdoor or mixed-light cultivation is prohibited within 200 feet of any occupied legal residential structure located on a separate legal parcel.

  • Outdoor or mixed-light cultivation, as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 18214.1, is prohibited within 100 feet of an occupied mobile home park that is separately owned.

  • Outdoor or mixed-light cultivation is prohibited within 100 feet of any adjoining legal parcel subject to separate ownership or an access easement (whichever is more restrictive).

  • Indoor cultivation of cannabis within an accessory structure may be permitted subject to the development requirements of the zoning districts where the structure is located and to the conditions under Chapter 20.164 (Accessory Use Regulations)

  • Indoor cultivation sites for persons looking to cultivate cannabis for adult use will be subject to the following limitation:

  • Cultivation locations within a private rental unit dwelling must follow the definitions under Mendocino County Code Section 20.008.050 and may not be located in any indoor space other than an accessory structure or garage.

  • Indoor or mixed-light cannabis cultivation must be powered by the electrical grid or an alternate energy source. Cultivation using either of these methods must not rely on a generator as a primary source of electricity.

  • All lights used in the indoor or mixed light cultivation of cannabis must be completely contained within buildings or insulated from any light or glare generated during the cultivation process.

  • All cannabis grown in Mendocino County (except indoor cultivation) must be contained within a secure fence that is at least six feet tall and completely encloses the garden space. The fence must have a lockable gate that is kept locked at all times while no eligible patient, caregiver, or permittee (or their agent) is present.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Mendocino County?

Yes. Pursuant to Section 20.243.040 of the Mendocino County Code, both home manufacturing and industrial manufacturing of cannabis are permitted in Mendocino County. Level 1 Manufacturing as an accessory use to cannabis cultivation is permitted in all zones in the county where cultivation is allowed and is subject to the provisions under Chapter 20.156 or Chapter 20.160 of the county code. Any Mendocino County resident conducting home manufacturing will be permitted to cultivate marijuana pursuant to Chapter 10A.17 and must live on the property where the home manufacturing occurs. All cannabis used in home manufacturing must be cultivated on-site, under a cultivation permit issued under the Mendocino County Code.

In compliance with the state regulations on cannabis activities, Mendocino County permits the manufacturing of edible cannabis products. Only nonvolatile extraction methods may be used for cannabis manufacturing in Mendocino County. Per Section 20.243.040(B)(3), the county permits multiple manufacturing facilities to occupy a single structure and operate as a shared-use facility in zones where Level 1 manufacturing is allowed, subject to the following conditions:

  • An administrative permit must be obtained, or a minor use permit obtained for shared-use facilities situated in a commercial zoning area.
  • Use of the shared facility is restricted to Manufacturing Level 1 (Nonvolatile)
  • All independent users of the shared facility must receive a manufacturing CFBL from the county and a Type S license from the State.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Mendocino County?

Yes. Cannabis retail is legal in Mendocino County pursuant to Section 20.243.040 (D) of the county cannabis code. Mendocino County also issues a CFBL (Cannabis Facilities Business License) to cannabis retailers as one of the following retailer subtypes, as defined under California regulations:

  • Retail dispensary
  • Non-storefront retailer

Retail dispensaries with storefronts are only permitted in the county pursuant to Table 1 of Section 20.243.060 or Section 20.243.040(d)(7)(c). Mendocino County allows on-site consumption of cannabis and its products at the premises of licensed retail dispensaries provided the following conditions are met:

  • A person must be 21 years of age or older to access the area where cannabis use is permitted.
  • Cannabis use is not visible from any public place or anywhere where access is limited due to age restrictions.
  • For retail dispensaries, the sale and use of alcohol and tobacco products are strictly forbidden on the premises.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Mendocino County?

Yes. According to Section 20.243.040 of the Mendocino County Cannabis Code, cannabis delivery is legal in the county. Per Subsection D (4), a licensed cannabis retailer may engage in mobile deliveries, provided that any advertisement of business or service on delivery vehicles is prohibited. Persons of legal age can have cannabis products delivered to their doorsteps from licensed cannabis delivery businesses in Mendocino County.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Mendocino County

The medical marijuana identification card (MMIC) was established under the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) of the California Department of Health and administered in Mendocino County by the Public Health Department of the County Health and Human Services Agency. Qualified patients and their primary caregivers are eligible for the MMIC in Mendocino County.

An MMIC applicant must schedule an appointment with the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency to complete the application process. You can schedule an appointment by contacting the Agency at (707) 472-2784. The applicant must be present throughout the application process. If a primary caregiver identification card is required, the primary caregiver must also be present at the appointment.

To ensure that MMIC applications are appropriately completed, applicants must submit the following to the County Health and Human Service Agency:

  • Completed Application (DHS 9042) Form
  • Written recommendation of Patient's Medical Records CDPH 9044 form, completed by applicant's physician or physician's staff. The physician may also opt to use letterhead for the recommendation instead of the CDPH 9044 form. Note that this recommendation will be verified by the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency.
  • Government-issued photo identification, such as military ID, photo ID card, and driver's license. If the applicant is under 18 and cannot provide photo identification, a certified copy of birth certificate may be used.
  • Proof of Mendocino County residence with a clearly stated Mendocino County address. The following proofs are accepted:

oA current DMV registration in the name of the applicant

oA recent rent or mortgage receipt or current utility bill in the name of the applicant

oA California driver's license or ID card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicle. If the address listed is not current, the applicant may submit a DMV-issued Change of Address Certification Card (DL 43) detailing the applicant's current address.

  • Completed Card Issuer Preference Form. This form helps the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency determine the MMIC applicant's preferred method of receiving the card upon approval of the application.
  • The application fee. There is a nonrefundable $100 fee for each MMIC requested. Medi-Cal beneficiaries (patients or primary caregivers) who apply for MMICs get 50% discounts; hence, they will only pay $50 per MMIC requested. However, if applicable, applicants must bring their Medi-Cal to the scheduled appointment.

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.

After submitting the MMIC application, the County Public Health Department will verify the physician's license with the State Medical Board or Osteopathic Medical Board and the physician's recommendation. Typically, MMICs are available to patients or caregivers approximately 2-3 weeks after the interview or appointment at the Public Health Department of the County Health and Human Services Agency. For further inquiries about the MMIC, contact the Mendocino County Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program at:

Department of Public Health

1120 South Dora Street

Ukiah, CA 95482

Phone: (707) 472-2784

Fax: (707) 472-2735

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Mendocino County?

The cannabis industry in Mendocino County has remained one of the key fiscal contributors to the county's economy since the recreational sales of cannabis began in early 2018. Between the second and fourth quarters of 2018, Mendocino County generated $130.01 in per capita sales and $11,513,494 in total taxable sales. In 2019, the county generated $221.83 in per capita sales and $19,568,177 in total taxable sales. In 2020, the record was $296.19 in per capita sales and $25,980,272 in total taxable sales.

Between the first and third quarters of 2021, Mendocino County accrued $271.97 in per capita sales and $25,572,114 in total taxable sales. This increasing income accruing to the Mendocino County government from recreational sales of cannabis in the county is proof of the substantial contributions made by the cannabis sector to the county's economy.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Mendocino County

According to information obtained from incidents recorded by the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, Mendocino County has witnessed steadily declining marijuana-related crime rates since recreational cannabis sales was approved in California.

In 2018, Mendocino County recorded 22 DUI arrests, 5 arrests for marijuana possession, and 16 arrests for marijuana sales. In 2019, the county recorded 15 DUI arrests, 4 arrests for marijuana possession, and 2 arrests for marijuana sales. Mendocino County recorded 9 arrests for DUI in 2020. In that year, the arrest record for marijuana possession and marijuana sales were 9 and 6, respectively.

In the years preceding recreational marijuana sales, the county recorded 23 DUI arrests in 2015, 14 DUI arrests in 2016, and 22 DUI arrests in 2017. Marijuana possession arrests figures were 6, 11, and 8 in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively. Arrest figures for marijuana sales were 44, 32, and 7 in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Mendocino County Cannabis Overview