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

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Tulare County?

No. Per Tulare County Ordinance No. 3540, outdoor cultivation of cannabis regardless of use (commercial or personal) is expressly prohibited in all zones and lands in the unincorporated areas of Tulare County. Per Section 5-11-2000 of the county ordinance, personal cannabis cultivation is not permitted in the county except where such cultivation complies with the minimum requirements and additional standards imposed by Section 15.3 of the Tulare County Ordinance No. 352.

The requirements for cannabis cultivation in Tulare County include:

  • Cannabis cultivation must be conducted indoors, inside a private residence, or inside a wholly enclosed and secure structure on the premises of the private residence.
  • A completely enclosed and secure facility used for cannabis cultivation on the premises of the private residence must be situated in the parcel's back yard area as an accessory structure. This requirement that cultivation takes place only in the backyard does not apply to cultivation taking place in a garage.
  • The private residence or wholly enclosed and secure facility where cultivation happens should be constructed to prevent the transmission of scents, aromas, or smoke associated with cannabis cultivation or use to adjacent properties or public spaces.
  • There should be no external indication of cannabis cultivation operating on the plot visible from a public right-of-way.
  • Indoor grow lights must adhere to the County's accepted California Building, Electrical, Mechanical, and Fire Codes.
  • Individuals involved in cultivation operations are prohibited from engaging in illegal or unpermitted surface water drawing for cultivation purposes and unlawfully discharging water from the area where cultivation occurs.
  • All cannabis cultivation must be carried out by the legal owner or a legal resident of the private residence in the location where the cultivation is to take place. If the cultivator is not the legal owner of the private residence, the cultivator must acquire and retain a signed and notarized authorization document from the property owner prior to initiating any cultivation operations. The signed and notarized permission form must be kept at the place of cultivation. They must be accessible to county authorities, including the sheriff or sheriff's designee and any county code inspectors.
  • Adult-use cannabis cultivation must be limited to 6 plants per private residence, regardless of whether the cannabis plants are grown inside the private residence, in a fully enclosed and secure structure that is an accessory structure located on the grounds of a private residence, or in a combination of the two. The adult-use cannabis plant restriction per private residence applies regardless of the number of occupants.
  • The cultivation of medicinal cannabis is limited to 6 mature or 12 immature cannabis plants per qualified patient or individual with an identification card, regardless of whether the plants are cultivated inside the private residence, in a wholly enclosed and secure accessory structure located on the grounds of a private residence, or in a combination of the two. Cultivation of medical cannabis by primary caregivers is restricted to 6 mature or 12 immature cannabis plants per eligible patient or individual with an identification card. However, a private residence may have up to 24 cannabis-cultivated plants, regardless of the number of occupants or the reason for which the cannabis is cultivated, except if the private residence is situated in an area classified for commercial cannabis activity.
  • For an M-licensee, cultivation of more than 99 cannabis plants, whether mature or immature, on the premises of the M-licensee is prohibited in all zones of Tulare County. An M-license refers to a state license issued under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) for commercial cannabis activity involving medicinal cannabis.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Tulare County?

No. According to Section 15.3 of the Tulare County Code, commercial cannabis activities, including cannabis manufacturing for which an A-license is required or for which a state testing laboratory license must be obtained is prohibited in all buildings, lands, and zones in the unincorporated parts of Tulare County. That is, no person may establish, operate, maintain, conduct, or allow on their premises, cannabis manufacturing activities or other commercial cannabis activities for which an A-license or testing lab license is required. A-license refers to a state license issued under MAUCRSA for cannabis or cannabis products intended for adults aged 21 and older who do not possess physicians' recommendations.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Tulare County?

As stipulated under Section 5-11-2010 of the Tulare County Code, commercial business activities, including cannabis retail, are illegal in all unincorporated parts of the county. Note that Proposition 64, which legalized adult-use cannabis in California, permits local jurisdictions to promulgate their own rules concerning cannabis activities within their borders. For instance, Tulare City in Tulare County approved a draft ordinance in 2019 allowing dispensaries to sell marijuana to individuals aged 21 or older.

Per Section 5.96.020 of the Tulare City Code, retail cannabis sales are only allowed in a storefront, in areas zoned as C-4 or C-3. The city set operating hours for dispensaries between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and required them to be located more than 1,000 feet from each other and a minimum of 600 feet from any school. In October 2021, Tulare City amended the ordinance to reduce the proximity requirement between dispensaries from 1,000 to 600 feet. The city made no distinction between medicinal and recreational storefronts for this distance buffer requirement.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Tulare County?

Unless otherwise authorized by law, according to Section 5-11-2010 of the Tulare Cannabis Code, M-licensees with premises located in the unincorporated parts of Tulare County are prohibited from conducting cannabis or cannabis product deliveries. However, that section of the county ordinance may not be construed as prohibiting deliveries made by M-Licensees with premises situated outside of Tulare County's unincorporated areas.

Pursuant to the provisions of Proposition 64, cities may permit cannabis delivery in their jurisdictions in accordance to their ordinances. For example, Section 5.96.040 of the Tulare City Code permits mobile deliveries from commercial cannabis businesses with regulatory permits within the city borders. In Tulare City, all cannabis deliveries must be conducted in compliance with the standards and regulations approved by the Chief of Police.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Tulare County

The Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) program affords qualified patients identification cards which protects them from arrest for possession, delivery, transportation, or cultivation of medical marijuana in the amount allowed by SB 420. To apply for an MMIC, you must first obtain a medical cannabis use recommendation from a physician. The attending physician must have a valid license issued by the California Medical Board or the California Osteopathic Medical Board, but there are no residency requirements for the physician.

Also, you must provide proof from your physician stating that you have been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition and that marijuana has been approved for medical use. Your physician is required to keep a copy of the statement in your medical file. As a convenience, the California Department of Public Health provides the Written Documentation of Patient's Medical Records Form (MMP Form No. 002).

Your physician will be contacted to verify that the medical paperwork provided is a genuine and accurate copy of your medical records maintained at the physician's office. The applicant is obliged to verify that the medical provider has an Authorized Release of Medical Information on file.

An MMIC applicant must submit the following during application:

  • A completed MMIC application form
  • Proof of residency. A valid state motor vehicle registration, current rent or mortgage receipt, or utility bill in the patient's name bearing the current address in the county is acceptable.
  • A valid government-issued photo ID such as a state driver's license and ID card issued by the DMV bearing the patient's name and current address
  • 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 applicant's name, telephone number, and address
  • The applicant's Medi-Cal card (If the applicant is a Medi-Cal beneficiary)
  • The application fee. Contact the Tulare County Department of Public Health for the current application fee by calling (559) 685-5710. Note that fees are nonrefundable.

MMIC applications may only be completed by scheduling an appointment with the county Department of Health. The department's address is:

Department of Public Health

1150 South K Street

Tulare, CA 93274

Phone: (559) 685-5710

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Tulare County?

Tulare County has had the cannabis industry contribute immensely to its economic growth since the legalization of the recreational use of the drug in 2018. In the second, third, and fourth quarter of 2018, Tulare County generated a total of $18.19 in per capita sales and $8,594,760 in total taxable sales. In the first, second, and last quarter of 2019, the county generated $11,872,346 in total taxable sales and $24.95 in per capita sales. Data could not be obtained from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) for the third quarter of 2019.

In 2020, Tulare County generated $90.48 in per capita sales and $43,384,323 in total taxable sales. In the first three quarters of 2021, Tulare County accrued $84.71 in per capita sales and $40,816,136 in total taxable sales from the cannabis industry.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Tulare County

In 2018, when California approved the sale of adult-use cannabis, Tulare County recorded 161 DUI arrests, 26 arrests for marijuana possession, and 20 arrests for marijuana sales. In 2019, the county recorded 154 DUI arrests, 32 arrests for marijuana possession, and 46 arrests for marijuana sales. Tulare County recorded 196 arrests for DUI in 2020. In that year, the arrest record for marijuana possession and marijuana sales were 27 and 26, respectively.

In the years immediately preceding recreational marijuana sales, the county recorded 145 DUI arrests in 2015, 129 DUI arrests in 2016, and 133 DUI arrests in 2017. Marijuana possession arrests figures were 35, 17, and 16 in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Arrest figures for drug sales were 208, 153, and 10 in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

In this section:
Tulare County Cannabis Overview