Sierra County Cannabis Overview

  1. California Cannabis
  2. Sierra County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Sierra County?

The Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act legalized recreational cannabis for persons, in California, aged 21 years and older. This made it legal for eligible persons to possess and consume cannabis, within the provisions of the law. The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) was enacted to revise and consolidate the state's medical and recreational marijuana laws. MAUCRSA also defined licensing procedures and other regulatory protocols to facilitate commercial cannabis activities. The oversight for cannabis cultivation, including licensing and inspections, was initially handled by the California Department of Food And Agriculture (CDFA). However, in 2021, all activities related to the cannabis market in California were consolidated under the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). The control over commercial cannabis policies in local jurisdictions in the state was left with local authorities under the provisions of the law. As such, local authorities could choose to allow or ban commercial cannabis business operations in their jurisdictions. Only about 53% of the counties in California allow commercial cannabis business operations in their jurisdictions; this is even though several of these counties voted for Proposition 64. Persons and entities that wish to cultivate cannabis for commercial purposes in any location must obtain all required state and local permits and licenses.

It is illegal to cultivate cannabis for commercial purposes in Sierra County. Section 8.02.30 of the Sierra County Code effectively prohibits all commercial cannabis activities, including cultivation, in the county. The ordinance, enacted by the Sierra County Board of Supervisors, prohibited commercial cannabis cultivation, processing, and retail in Sierra County. The ordinance is only effective in county areas where federal or state law does not forestall the Board from prohibiting these activities.

However, cannabis cultivation by persons in locations in Sierra County for personal consumption is legal under local county ordinances. This must be done in accordance with state and local regulations regarding the cultivation of cannabis. Cannabis for personal use may be grown indoors or outdoors on a property, in accordance with statutory provisions. Persons may grow up to 18 cannabis plants with medical authorization to use cannabis (registry ID cards) and up to 6 plants without. The maximum number of plants grown on any property must not exceed 72. To be permitted to cultivate cannabis for personal use in Sierra County, the individual must cultivate the cannabis on property that they own and/or reside. If the person cultivating the cannabis is not the legal owner of the property, they must obtain notarized consent to grow cannabis from the property owner. Cannabis cannot be grown within 100 feet of a school, public park, or location frequented by minors. Cannabis plants grown outdoors must be behind a fully enclosed opaque fence that must be at least 6 feet high and not be visible from any public right-of-way.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Sierra County?

It is legal in the State of California for licensed entities to manufacture products from cannabis. The Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act legalized recreational use of cannabis in the state, enabling eligible adults to possess and use cannabis-infused products. To facilitate this, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act was passed in 2018. This Act set up the regulatory structures for cannabis commerce in the state and afforded local authorities control over policy within their jurisdictions. Consequently, it was within the power of local County Boards to allow or restrict the manufacture of cannabis products for commercial purposes.

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors includes commercial marijuana processing in its list of prohibited activities in the county. Section 8.02.30of the Sierra County Code prohibits commercial marijuana processing, and no individual or entity may conduct such activities in the county. The County Board shall not grant any permits, licenses, or entitlements to any persons to perform these activities in unincorporated areas of Sierra County. Loyalton, the only incorporated city in Sierra County, also prohibits commercial marijuana processing in its jurisdiction.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Sierra County?

The possession of cannabis and cannabis-infused products by eligible persons is legal in California, according to the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Cannabis Act. Eligible persons are also entitled to purchase cannabis and cannabis-infused products from licensed retail stores or delivery services in the state. The Medicinal And Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act established the protocols that regulate the licensing of cannabis retail services in California. However, approvals for the licensing of cannabis retail stores are left to the local authorities to decide by the Act. As such, local Boards can choose to ban cannabis retail stores in their jurisdictions.

Section 8.02. effectively prohibits all commercial cannabis activities, including the retail of cannabis from storefront establishments. As such, it is illegal for entities in the county to establish or operate retail cannabis stores in unincorporated areas of the county. Cannabis retail stores are also banned in Loyalton, the only incorporated city in Sierra County.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Sierra County?

The Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation Act (MAUCRSA) explicitly permits the delivery of cannabis to "any jurisdiction" in California. This applies to all communities in the state, including those that have banned commercial cannabis business operations in their territories. To this effect, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) issued regulations to facilitate the statewide delivery of cannabis by licensed delivery services. The cannabis industry in California also enjoys special workforce dispensations that facilitate cannabis delivery following this issuance of an executive order by Governor Newsom in 2020.

Section 8.02.40 of the Sierra County Code explicitly exempts the delivery of cannabis and cannabis-infused products from the list of prohibited activities. Residents in Sierra County can receive cannabis deliveries from stores and services duly licensed to deliver cannabis in California. All cannabis deliveries in Sierra County must be made by licensed drivers and in compliance with all state laws and regulations for cannabis deliveries.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Sierra County

Medical marijuana became legal in California in 1996, after voters chose to approve Proposition 215 - the Compassionate Use Act. This Act enabled qualified patients to possess marijuana and use it as an alternative treatment for debilitating medical conditions. It also afforded qualified patients (and their caregivers) with certain legal protections from law enforcement. As part of the efforts to simplify the law and make it easier for law enforcement to identify qualified patients, Senate Bill 420 was enacted in 2003. SB420 established the medical marijuana patient registry and prescribed the issuance of identification cards to registered patients and their caregivers. In 2018, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) was enacted to repeal and replace existing medical marijuana laws in the state. The Act also established the regulatory framework for facilitating commercial cannabis business operations statewide. In Sierra County, qualified patients can register for the Medical Marijuana Program to receive medical marijuana identification cards and access the benefits of the program.

Patients that qualify to register for the medical marijuana program and receive identification cards must be diagnosed with one of the following debilitating conditions:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Anorexia
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Cancer
  • Cachexia, also known as wasting syndrome
  • Migraine
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Persistent muscle spasms, like those caused by Multiple Sclerosis
  • Any other chronic or persistent medical condition that restricts the patient's ability to carry out major life activities

Patients must also obtain written recommendations from their physicians authorizing the medicinal use of cannabis for their debilitating medical conditions. Physicians that are eligible to recommend medical marijuana in California must be medical doctors or doctors of osteopathy duly licensed by their professional boards.

Patients (or their caregivers) that wish to register for the medical marijuana program in Sierra County must submit their applications and supporting documents at:

Sierra County Department of Health

202 Front Street

Loyalton, CA 96118

Medical marijuana identification card applications can only be submitted on appointment and patients can call the Sierra County Department of Health on (530) 993-6700 to book. On the day of their appointments, patients are required to provide;

  • A completed medical marijuana identification card application form (english|spanish)
  • A written recommendation (english|spanish) from a physician licensed in the state
  • A copy of a government-issued photo ID
  • Evidence of the patient's Sierra County residency
  • A valid County Medical Services Program (CMSP) or Medi-Cal card, if the patient is a current recipient of either program.
  • Registration fee

Medical marijuana cards are available to qualified patients for $50 in Sierra County. Recipients of Medi-Cal receive a 50% discount on their registration fees while CSMP beneficiaries get waivers on their fees. Patients that require primary caregivers must ensure their caregivers fill out their section of the application forms and provide copies of valid photo IDs. A primary caregiver for a medical marijuana patient in Sierra County must be at least 18 years old and a legal resident of California.

Statutory provisions in MAUCRSA mandate that an application for a medical marijuana identification card be processed within 30 days of the Department receiving it. The Department will contact all recommending physicians to verify their recommendations and will also verify the physicians' statuses with their professional boards. If an application is approved by the Department, the patient's information is forwarded to the DCC for the processing of the ID cards. Approved patients can arrange to pick up their cards from the Department offices or have them sent by mail. If an application is denied, the patient can appeal the decision by submitting a denial appeal form (english|spanish) to the DCC. Patients must complete and submit their denial applications and any requested documents within 30 days of receiving the denial.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Sierra County?

The Sierra County Board of Supervisors prohibits commercial cannabis activities in unincorporated areas of the county despite a majority of county residents' support for cannabis legalization. Cannabis laws in California afforded local control to authorities to decide commercial cannabis policies in their jurisdictions.

The California Department of Tax and Fees Administration (CDTFA) compiles yearly reports on taxable cannabis sales by county in the state. There are no reports or records for the taxable cannabis sales for Sierra County.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Sierra County

In Sierra County, it is legal for eligible adults and patients to grow and possess cannabis products for personal consumption. Nonetheless, commercial cannabis activities, including cultivation and retail, are banned in the county and the performance of any of these activities is considered a public nuisance. Loyalton, the only incorporated city in the county, also bans commercial cannabis activities within its jurisdiction.

The arrest rates for crimes related to marijuana have tended to drop statewide, following the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state. However, this has not always been the case. The Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the FBI compiles arrest data for crimes across all jurisdictions in the country. The Sierra County Sheriff's Office collates arrest statistics for crimes committed in the county as part of the Program. In 2016, there were a total of 5 arrests for marijuana-related offenses made by the Sheriff's Office; of which all the arrests were for sales/manufacturing. In 2017, arrests for marijuana-related offenses dropped by 60% to 2 incidents in 2017, and by a further 100% to 0 incidents in 2018. There were no arrests for marijuana-related offenses by the Sierra County Sheriff in 2019, but there was one arrest for marijuana possession in 2020. This represented a 100% increase in marijuana-related arrests from the previous year.

Sierra County Cannabis Overview