Santa Clara County Cannabis Overview

  1. California Cannabis
  2. Santa Clara County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Santa Clara County?

Pursuant to Section B26.5-3 of the County of Santa Clara Ordinance Code, commercial outdoor and indoor cannabis cultivation are illegal in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. However, this rule does not apply to the cultivation of medicinal cannabis by qualified patients or caregivers at residences on legal parcels where the qualified patients or primary caregivers reside. For medicinal cannabis cultivation by qualified patients and primary caregivers, cultivation is limited to either of the following:

  • Indoor cultivation, provided it is conducted in strict compliance with Section B26.5-5 of the County of Santa Clara Ordinance Code
  • Outdoor cultivation, provided it is conducted in strict compliance with Section B26.5-6 of the County of Santa Clara Ordinance Code

Cannabis cultivation for primary caregivers and qualified patients must also follow these requirements in Santa Clara County:

  • No cultivated medicinal marijuana may be distributed to any individual other than the qualified patient cultivating the medicinal marijuana or the qualified patient of a primary caregiver cultivating the medicinal marijuana
  • No evidence of cannabis cultivation must be detectable or visible from any property or public right of way. Such evidence includes glare, dust, light, heat, gases, odors, smoke, or vibrations caused by any cultivation-related activity
  • Electrical systems and fuel storage used in medical marijuana growing must be approved, used, and installed in accordance with all relevant ordinances, laws, and regulations. The combined power of all cultivation lights should not exceed 1,200 watts. All cultivation lights must be directly plugged into a power outlet. The number and power ratings of lights used must not exceed the circuits' design capability
  • The primary caregiver or qualified patient may keep or possess up to eight ounces or a quantity reasonably relevant to the qualified patient's present medical needs on a legal parcel. All dried or processed marijuana storage must be secured to prevent unauthorized access, particularly access by minors
  • It is unlawful to extract chemical components from marijuana using a solvent-based extraction process using compressed flammable gases or alcohol

Other county regulations applicable to qualified patients or primary caregivers performing outdoor cultivation are contained in Section B26.5-8 of the County of Santa Clara Ordinance Code.

According to Section B26.5-7 of the Santa Clara Ordinance Code, the following are additional regulations for indoor cannabis cultivation in Santa Clara County:

  • Cultivation must be restricted to a single space in a single room. A single space inside a single room must not exceed 50 square feet. Indoor marijuana plants must be arranged in a single layer. This restriction applies regardless of the number of qualifying patients and primary caregivers that live at the residence
  • The drying, processing, and storage of medical marijuana should be restricted to a single room inside the residence where the cultivation takes place and must be protected to prevent unwanted access

Santa Clara County permits personal adult-use cannabis cultivation by persons of legal age. According to Section B26.5-6 of the County of Santa Clara Code of Ordinances:

  • Personal adult-use cannabis is permitted on a private residence on a legal parcel where the cultivator lives and is restricted to indoor cultivation conducted in strict compliance with applicable state law and other statutes of Section B26.5-6
  • Adult-use cannabis cultivated in accordance with this section stated above may not be transferred to anyone except the adult-use cannabis cultivator. This section does not apply to transactions permitted according to Health and Safety Code 11362.1, such as:
  • Individuals 21 years of age or older may legally give away up to 28.5 grams of cannabis to other individuals 21 years of age or older, providing the cannabis is not in the form of concentrated cannabis.
  • Individuals 21 years of age or older may voluntarily give away to other individuals 21 years of age or older up to eight grams of cannabis in the form of concentrated cannabis.
  • A personal adult-use cannabis cultivator is limited to cultivating no more than six live plants at a time. The live plants and any cannabis produced from the plants above 28.5 grams must be secured in a closed space
  • It is unlawful to extract chemical components from cannabis using a solvent-based extraction process using compressed combustible gases or alcohol.

Although California approved medicinal and recreational use of cannabis via Proposition 215 and Proposition 64, the state permits local governments to regulate commercial cannabis businesses in their respective jurisdictions. Hence, cities and towns may enact local laws to regulate the establishment and operations of cannabis activities within their borders. If you reside in an incorporated city in Santa Clara County, it is recommended that you check with local authorities in your area to ascertain whether cannabis cultivation is permitted or prohibited.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Santa Clara County?

Cannabis manufacturing is illegal in the unincorporated cities and towns in Santa Clara County. Per Section B26.5-3 of the Santa Clara Code of Ordinances, the establishment, maintenance, and operation of a commercial cannabis manufacturing business are prohibited in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Santa Clara County?

Per Ordinance Code Division B26, Santa Clara County prohibits the establishment or operations of medical marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the county. However, primary caregivers or qualified patients who have physicians' recommendations may purchase marijuana at medical collectives or dispensaries in some cities in the county. For instance, the City of San Jose maintains a list of registered collectives from which qualified persons may purchase medical cannabis.

There are no specific county-level regulations restricting the operation of medical cannabis dispensaries or the sale of cannabis products such as edibles. Note that cities and towns in the county may have specific lawsguiding the establishment and operation of cannabis dispensaries within their jurisdictions.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Santa Clara County?

Yes. Approved cannabis dispensaries are permitted to deliver cannabis products to consumers at their residences. Recreational cannabis dispensaries can currently only deliver purchases to consumers by deliveries in Santa Clara County.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Santa Clara County

A Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) identifies the holder as an individual protected under the provisions of SB 94 and Proposition 215. The card verifies that the cardholder may legally possess certain amounts of medical marijuana under specific conditions. Although Santa Clara County does not mandate patients to obtain medical marijuana identification cards, a patient who presents a valid MMIC will not have to pay sales and use tax when buying medical cannabis. You may qualify for a Medical Marijuana Identification Card if you have a chronic disease or approved medical condition that authorizes you to use medical marijuana for therapy.

To apply for a Medicinal Marijuana Identification Card in Santa Clara County, you must provide written documentation from a qualified physician stating that medical marijuana is necessary to treat your medical condition, proof of residence, a government-issued picture identification, and a non-refundable application fee. Cash payments are not accepted for the application fee. Accepted forms of payment include credit or debit cards, money order, and check. The application fee is $10 for each MMIC or $5 for Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

You can submit your MMIC application by electronic mail or U.S. mail. To complete an application by U.S. mail, the following items are required in the application:

  • A completed MMICP application
  • A Recommendation Letter signed and dated by the attending physician within the previous 12 months.
  • A copy of a government-issued photo ID
  • A copy of recent proof of residency for Santa Clara County. Only one proof is required.
  • Payment by money order or check made payable to "MMICP."

Note that the same documentation is required for an application to be completed by email. Also, for either application by U.S. mail and electronic mail, payment by credit card is payable by phone following pre-approval of documents.

In addition to the above requirements, an MMIC applicant will also be required to email three personal photos with a solid white background apart from the government-issued ID. No curtains, blinds, or sheets must be visible in the background of the photograph. Any items such as scarves or sunglasses that may obscure facial features or hairstyles obstructing facial features beneath the forehead are not allowed. Typically, applicants are required to take and email these photographs using their smartphones. If unable to do this, an applicant may schedule an in-person appointment.

Electronic submission of application should be made to Vitalrecords@phd.sccgov.org, while submissions by U.S. mail should be made to:

Santa Clara County Public Health Department

Vital Records and Registration/MMICP

976 Lenzen Avenue, Ste 1300

San Jose, CA 95126

After submitting all documents and their pre-approval, a Santa Clara County Public Health staff will contact you with the estimated timeframe for card delivery or pickup.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Santa Clara County?

Legalizing cannabis has positively affected the Santa Clara County economy, with yearly accruals of over $100,000 in total taxable sales. Following the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2018, Santa Clara County recorded $63.8 in per capita sales and $124,052,135 in total taxable sales between the second and fourth quarter of 2018.

In 2019, the county recorded $95.88 in per capita sales and $186,503,549 in total taxable sales. In 2020, Santa Clara County accrued $104.49 in per capita sales and $203,285,631 in total taxable sales. Between the first and third quarter of 2021, Santa Clara County generated $84.96 in per capita sales and $164,368,290 in total taxable sales.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Santa Clara County

Per FBI crime data obtained from incident reports generated by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, there were a total of 123 arrests for DUI, 7 arrests for marijuana possession, and 8 arrests for marijuana sale offenses in 2018. In 2019, the county recorded 82 DUI arrests, 7 marijuana possession arrests, and 3 arrests for marijuana sale offenses.

In the following year, in 2020, there were 56 DUI arrests in Santa Clara County, while 5 arrests were made for marijuana possession offenses, and 4 arrests for marijuana sale offenses. This trend indicates a declining crime rate for marijuana-related offenses since the legalization of cannabis.

Santa Clara County Cannabis Overview