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

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Sonoma County?

Yes. Although Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis in California, permits counties to enact their own cannabis rules, Sonoma County neither prohibits commercial cannabis cultivation nor personal-use cannabis cultivation (medical cannabis use) in the county. Cannabis cultivation in Sonoma County is required to be done in compliance with the Cannabis Cultivation Best Management Practices issued by the Agricultural Commissioner.

Other county regulations concerning square footage limitations, propagation, property setbacks, lighting, hours of operation, and other rules for commercial cannabis cultivation are contained in Section 26-88-254 of the Sonoma County Code.

According to Section 26-88-258 of the Sonoma County Ordinance, cultivation of cannabis for personal use is restricted to parcels with a residence and a full-time resident on the premises where the cannabis cultivation occurs. For personal cultivation, cultivation is limited to no more than 100 square feet per residence, where up to 6 plants may be cultivated for adult use purposes. For outdoor personal cultivation in Sonoma County, cannabis plants may not be located in front and side yard setback areas and must be invisible from a public right of way. It is unlawful to conduct outdoor cannabis cultivation on parcels with multi-family units or in the areas designated as medium and high-density residential zones.

Sonoma County stipulates that cannabis cultivation must be contained in an enclosed accessory structure, garage, or greenhouse for indoor and mixed light personal cultivation. Per law, cannabis cultivation within a structure approved for residential use as outlined in Chapter 7 of the Sonoma County Code is illegal, except where there are no possible alternatives. Light systems for indoor and mixed light personal cultivation must be fully shielded, such as to confine glare and light to the interior of the structure.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Sonoma County?

Yes. Cannabis manufacturing is legal in Sonoma County if carried out in compliance with all applicable state and local regulations. According to Section 26-88-126 (c) of the county ordinance, Sonoma County requires all businesses proposing to operate as edible medical cannabis product manufacturing facilities to obtain a health permit from the Environmental Health and Safety Department. Intending manufacturers of cannabis-infused products for consumption are also required to obtain health permits.

Individuals in Sonoma County permitted to cultivate cannabis for personal use may not manufacture cannabis using volatile solvents, such as propane, butane, xylene, gasoline, or kerosene. For such persons, other dangerous poisons, carcinogens, toxins, such as methylene, methanol, acetone, chloride, toluene, benzene, and tri-chloro-ethylene, are also not to be used.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Sonoma County?

Yes. Cannabis retail is legal in Sonoma County. The county regulations for cannabis dispensaries operating within its borders are contained in Section 26-88-256 of the county ordinance. The county sets forth the following restrictions for locating cannabis dispensaries in its jurisdiction:

  • A cannabis dispensary may not be constructed on any site that contains a dwelling unit used for residential purposes or within 100 feet of a residential zoning area.
  • A cannabis dispensary may not be located within 1,000 feet of another dispensary or a public park or 500 feet of a smoke shop or similar establishment.
  • A cannabis dispensary may not be located within 1,000 feet of a school offering education to students in kindergarten, a childcare center, or a drug or alcohol treatment institution.

A dispensary may sell live starter plants, clones, and seeds obtained from licensed nurseries but not grow or clone cannabis. If the Department of Health Services permits, a dispensary may sell manufactured cannabis, including edible products and vaporizing devices. A maximum of 10% of the floor surface, or 50 square feet, may be allocated to the sale of incidental goods for personal cultivation.

Section 14-6-060 of the Sonoma County Ordinance also stipulates operational requirements for medical cannabis dispensaries:

  • Medical cannabis dispensaries must operate from a permanent building and are not permitted to operate from a truck or other temporary construction.
  • Smoking, ingesting, or otherwise consuming medical cannabis products is prohibited on the premises or in the public right-of-way within 25 feet of a medical cannabis dispensary. Medical cannabis dispensaries must display a sign expressing this policy near their entrances and exits.

Sonoma County cannabis ordinance stipulates that cannabis dispensaries in the county may only operate Monday through Saturday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. The law even provides for a further restriction on the operating hours where necessary to provide for land use compatibility.

Sonoma County requires that all edible cannabis products sold at medical cannabis dispensaries or manufactured at edible cannabis product manufacturing sites comply with Section 13700 of the Health and Safety Code and other applicable food safety codes.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Sonoma County?

Yes. However, according to Section 26-88.256 of the county code, cannabis delivery in Sonoma County can only be made by licensed medical cannabis dispensaries provided they comply with the following rules:

  • All employees delivering medical cannabis must carry copies of the dispensary's valid permit authorizing delivery and must present the permit upon request to relevant state and local regulatory or enforcement agencies.
  • The permittee must maintain a physical copy of the delivery request and make it available upon request to the relevant authorities upon request.
  • The primary caregiver or qualified patient requesting delivery must maintain a copy of the delivery request and make it available upon request to the relevant authorities.
  • The medical cannabis dispensary delivering medical cannabis must verify and document that the person taking possession of the product is a primary caregiver or qualified patient.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Sonoma County

The MMIC (Medical Marijuana Identification Card) program in Sonoma County offers patients an identification card indicating they have physicians' recommendations stating that they have been diagnosed with serious medical conditions and that medical marijuana use is appropriate. The attending physician must have a valid license granted by the California Medical Board or the California Osteopathic Medical Board, but Sonoma County places no mandatory residency requirements on the physicians.

The card may aid law enforcement officers in assessing if an individual who uses marijuana satisfies the conditions of the Compassionate Use Act, which stipulates that a patient may purchase and use marijuana for personal medicinal reasons with a physician's approval.

To obtain an MMIC in Sonoma County, you must schedule an appointment with the Public Health Division of the Sonoma County Office of Vital Statistics. The Office accepts completed applications by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The address of the county health division is:

Office of Vital Statistics

Public Health Division

Health Services

415 Humboldt Street

Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Phone: (707) 565-4407

Fax: (707) 565-4413

The following are required at the appointment with the Sonoma County Office of Vital Statistics:

  • A completed MMIC application form. If you include a primary caregiver on your application form, the primary caregiver must produce photographic identification and complete Section 4 of the form when your application is submitted.
  • Proof of Sonoma County residency. You may use a valid and current motor vehicle driver's license or identification card issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This identification includes:
  • The DMV DL43 "Change of Address Certification Card";
  • A current and valid state motor vehicle registration bearing your name and current residence within Sonoma County; or
  • A utility bill or current rent or mortgage receipt in your name bearing your current address within Sonoma County.
  • Government-issued photo identification
  • A piece of the applicant's medical record that attests that the applicant's attending physician has discussed or recommended medical marijuana use as part of the applicant's treatment plan.

The Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program in Sonoma County requires that doctors maintain copies of the written documentation attesting to diagnosis and recommended medical cannabis use on file. The state Department of Health Services offers the use of the Written Documentation of Patient's Medical Records Form (MMP Form No. 9044) as a convenience.

  • The applicant's name, telephone number, fax number, and address
  • The applicant's Medi-Cal card (If the applicant is a Medi-Cal beneficiary)
  • The application fee. Payment can be made by cash, money order, Visa or MasterCard credit card, or debit card. The Sonoma County Office of Vital Statistics does not accept payments made by personal check. The fee is $94 for regular applicants and $47 for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Note that fees are nonrefundable.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Sonoma County?

The cannabis industry in Sonoma County has been a source of economic boost since the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2018. Following cannabis adult-use approval Sonoma County recorded a total of $104.13 in per capita sales and $52,120,083 in taxable sales between the second and fourth quarter of 2019. In the following year, the county generated $159.18 in per capita sales and $78,945,209 in total taxable sales in 2019.

In 2020, Sonoma County generated $204.27 in per capita sales and $101,359,430 in total taxable sales. In the first three quarters of 2021, Sonoma County generated $169.73 in per capita sales and $82,190,018 in total taxable sales.

From the data obtained from CDTFA, the income generated from the cannabis sector in the county has increased year on and has aided the county's economy. According to a publication on the economic impact of the cannabis industry on Sonoma County published in December 2018, for every kilogram of cannabis produced in Sonoma County, the county economy generates $7,800 of business revenue across hundreds of industries.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Sonoma County

According to an FBI crime report generated from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office in 2018, there were 31 DUI arrests in the county in that year, 6 arrests for marijuana possession, and 6 arrests for marijuana sale offenses. In 2019, the county recorded 13 DUI arrests, 5 arrests for marijuana possession, and 7 arrests for marijuana sales. In 2020, the record was 7 DUI arrests, 1 marijuana possession arrest, and 1 arrest for marijuana sales. Hence, there has been a decline in marijuana-related crime rates in the county since the legalization of recreational marijuana.

In this section:
Sonoma County Cannabis Overview