Riverside County Cannabis – Is It Legal & Where To Buy 2024

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Riverside County?

Yes, the cultivation of cannabis is legal in Riverside County, California. Medical and recreational cannabis are also legal in California pursuant to California's Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) and Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). Riverside County permits persons over the age of 21 to grow no more than six cannabis plants for personal and non-commercial use. However, qualified patients can each grow up to 12 immature cannabis plants or 6 mature plants. A qualified patient is not permitted to have more than one primary caregiver cultivating cannabis plants for them. The primary caregiver is also under the same cultivation restrictions as the qualified patient. No more than two qualified patients are allowed to cultivate cannabis on the same premises, and they must not cultivate more than 12 mature plants in total.

The Riverside County Planning Department specifies that cannabis grown for personal use must be grown indoors within a single private residence. A private residence may be an apartment unit, family dwelling, mobile home, or similar dwelling. Personal-use cannabis may also be grown inside a separate accessory structure sited on the grounds of a private residence that is fully secured and confined from public view. A designated marijuana cultivation area must not be visible from any public right-of-way. Individuals are not permitted to grow cannabis within a multi-dwelling building or upon any premises containing a child care center, church, or youth-oriented facility. Where cannabis is grown outside of any building, the building must be fully secured by an opaque fence that is at least six feet high. Bushes, plastic sheeting, hedgerows, tarps, or cloth material cannot be used as fences. Section 19.508 of Riverside County Ordinance No. 348 prohibits outdoor cultivation of mature cannabis plants in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

Commercial cannabis activities are permitted in Riverside County, provided an approved conditional use permit is obtained. The law mandates that all live cannabis plants, regardless of the stage of growth, must not be visible outside the cultivation facility, structure, or building. Commercial cannabis may be grown in portable greenhouses and non-permanent enclosures unless all applicable permits and licenses have been obtained. The permits may include land use permits and building permits obtained from the Riverside County Planning Department. A potential cannabis grower must also obtain a California license for a Mixed Light Cannabis Cultivation operation. These licenses and permits shall attract some fees.

According to Section 19.503, commercial cannabis activities are prohibited in certain zones, including:

  • R-R Rural Residential
  • R-R-O Rural Residential, Outdoor Advertising
  • R-1 One-Family Dwellings
  • R-1A One-Family Dwellings – Mountain Resort
  • R-A Residential Agricultural
  • R-2 Multiple Family Dwellings
  • R-2A Limited Multiple Family Dwellings
  • R-3 General Residential
  • R-3A Village Tourist Residential
  • R-T Mobile Home Subdivision and Mobilehome Park
  • R-T-R Mobile Home Subdivision – Rural
  • R-4 Planned Residential
  • R-5 Open Area Combining Zone – Residential Developments
  • R-6 Residential Incentive
  • R-7 Highest Density Residential
  • M-R Mineral Resources
  • M-R-A Mineral Resources & Related Manufacturing
  • MU Mixed-Use
  • C/V Citrus/Vineyard
  • W-2 Controlled Development Areas
  • R-D Regulated Development Areas
  • N-A Natural Assets
  • W-2-M Controlled Development Areas with Mobile homes
  • W-1 Watercourse, Watershed, and Conservation Areas
  • WC-W Wine Country- Winery
  • WC-WE Wine Country – Winery Existing
  • WC-E Wine Country – Equestrian
  • WC-R Wine Country – Residential
  • W-E Wind Energy Resource Zone

Note that growing, using, and possessing cannabis for non-medical purposes remains illegal for persons under the age of 21. Proposition 64 establishes that cannabis businesses, including cannabis cultivation, must not be located within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers, community centers, parks, or youth centers.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Riverside County?

In Riverside County, the manufacture and production of cannabis products are legal. Section 21.19 of Riverside County Ordinance No. 348 authorizes the compounding, blending, infusing, extracting, processing, preparing, holding, or storing of components and ingredients of cannabis and cannabis products in the county.

The following cannabis manufacturing facilities are permitted in Riverside County:

  • Non-volatile cannabis manufacturing facility: This type of manufacturing facility requires a Type 6, Type N (Edible or Topical products), or Type P (Packaging and Labeling products) Colorado State manufacturing license for the production, processing, storage, packaging, labeling of cannabis or its products. Licensees are allowed to engage in extractions by chemical synthesis or non-volatile organic compounds at a fixed location. It also permits the processing, preparing, storing, holding, of cannabis components and ingredients.
  • Volatile cannabis manufacturing facility: This requires a Type 7 state manufacturing license. A cannabis manufacturer is permitted to produce, process, prepare, propagate, hold, store, package, and label cannabis or cannabis products directly or indirectly. Processing may also be by extraction and/or infusion methods, or independently, through chemical synthesis or a combination of extraction and/or infusion and chemical synthesis, using volatile organic compounds, at a fixed location. It also permits the processing, preparing, storing, holding of components and ingredients. These activities are only allowed in zones.

Before manufacturing is permitted in Riverside County, a potential manufacturer must obtain a Conditional Use Permit and an Environmental Review from the Riverside County Planning Department. These will be required when a manufacturing license application is being submitted. Persons looking to obtain the conditional use permit must participate in a proposal process. Here, the county will seek and assess proposals from applicants, and only a limited number will be picked to proceed with the application submission. Note that the county only has land use jurisdiction in its unincorporated areas; hence, it can only permit commercial cannabis activities in those areas. Note that a Development Agreement will also be required later, but before entitlement approval. All cannabis-related applications, including manufacturing, are subject to a public hearing before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Cannabis manufacturing activities in Riverside County are only allowed in zones I-P, M-SC, M-M, and M-H.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Riverside County?

Yes, cannabis retail is legal in Riverside County. The county allows cannabis retailers, also known as cannabis dispensaries, to operate within authorized zones in the county. Persons aged 21 and over can buy cannabis from such retailers. The products that may be purchased at dispensaries include cannabis flowers, seeds, whole plants, cloves, concentrates, edibles, prerolls, topicals, patches, etc. Riverside County defines a cannabis retailer (dispensary) as a facility where cannabis, cannabis products, or devices designed for cannabis consumption are sold for retail sale. It also includes an establishment that delivers cannabis and cannabis products as part of retail sales. Cannabis retailers' services may include mobile delivery but not mobile dispensaries. While storefront cannabis retailers are open to the public, cannabis non-store front cannabis retailers are not. Cannabis retailers must obtain local authorization from Riverside County before they can operate.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Riverside County?

Yes, cannabis delivery is legal in Riverside County pursuant to Ordinance No. 348.4947/50 Section 19.519 (C)(12). Riverside County defines cannabis delivery as the commercial transfer of cannabis or cannabis products. Deliveries must be conducted in accordance with California Business and Professions Code. The amount of cannabis delivered must be within the amount authorized by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) or its successor to a qualified patient, primary caregiver, or customer. To engage in the commercial transfer of cannabis or cannabis products within Riverside County, an applicant must obtain an approved conditional use permit from the Riverside County Planning Department and a Type 9 state license from the BCC.

Note that cannabis delivery to unincorporated areas of Riverside County is prohibited. According to Ordinance No. 348.4947/50 (C)(13), cannabis or cannabis products cannot be sold or delivered via any means or method to any person within a motor vehicle. Cannabis delivery is approved for people with medical marijuana ID cards in Riverside County.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Riverside County

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) offers qualified patients a state-authorized medical marijuana identification card (MMIC). Qualified patients are not mandated to obtain the MMIC; they can still obtain medical marijuana without the card. However, the MMIC offers protection against arrest to patients and their caregivers. The CDPH established the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program (MMICP) to create the MMIC and a registry database for verifying qualified patients and their primary caregivers.

Qualified patients can apply to Riverside County to obtain medical marijuana identification cards. To apply, first schedule an appointment by calling (951) 358-7932 or (888) 358-7932. More information about the application process will be provided during the call. Note that walk-in applications without appointments are not permitted. Before your appointment, ensure you get the following:

  • A Medical Marijuana Program Application or Renewal packet
  • A written recommendation from your physician (ensure to keep a copy in your medical file)

When going for your appointment, take the following along with you:

  • Original written recommendation from your physician on a prescription pad, official letterhead, or Written Documentation of Patient's Medical Record (English or Spanish).
  • Government-issued photo-identification cards as proof of identity. The government-issued photo identification could be a United States Passport, California State Driver's License, a California State ID Card, or Veteran's Administration ID Card.
  • Proof that you reside in Riverside County. The proof could be a current utility bill, automobile, health, life, or property insurance documents, mortgage payment receipt, or a California motor vehicle registration with your current address in Riverside County. Note that the department will not accept a P.O. Box address for address verification.
  • Application fees:
  • Eligible Medi-Cal participants will receive a 50% reduction in fee: $43.50
  • Non Medi-Cal: $87.00;
  • Fees can be paid to Riverside County by cashier's check or money order. Application fees are non-refundable. Applicants can mail payments to 4065 County Circle Drive RM# 103 Riverside, CA 92503.

The physical address where the medical marijuana ID card will be issued is:

Riverside County

Department of Public Health

4065 County Circle Drive, 2nd Floor Room 207

Riverside, CA 92503

(888) 358-7932

The business hours are Monday to Wednesday, 7:30 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm.

Note that it may take up to 35 days to receive your Medical Marijuana Identification Card. Your card will be delivered to you via mail at the address provided.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Riverside County?

The legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in Riverside County has positively impacted the economy of Riverside County. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration compiled a Cannabis Sales by County report, detailing tax revenue reports from the year cannabis became legal in Riverside County. Data from this report indicate that there has been a significant increase in the tax figures over time. In 2019, the total taxable sales was $103,489,169. In 2020, the total taxable sales significantly increased to $264,192,821. This indicates an upward trend in the tax revenue generated by cannabis in Riverside County.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Riverside County?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) yearly publishes crimes recorded by counties across the United States. Based on the FBI's crime report generated from the Riverside County Sheriff's Office in 2018, the year marijuana became fully legalized, there were 29 DUIs, 13 marijuana possession offenses, and seven marijuana sale/manufacturing offenses. In 2019, the year after legalization, the number of arrests for DUIs increased to 39, marijuana drug possession offenses increased to 44, sale/manufacturing offenses increased to 18. In 2020, the crime rate of marijuana-related offenses further increased, with the number of DUIs arrests reaching 69. The number of arrests for marijuana possession offenses increased to 61, and that of marijuana sale/manufacturing offenses was also 61. These crime data indicate a significant increase in the crime rate in Riverside County after cannabis legalization.

In this section:
Riverside County Cannabis Overview