Yes, cannabis cultivation is legal in Ventura County. Proposition 215, also called the Compassionate Use Act, passed by voters in 1996, legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes in California. The act allows persons with specific medical conditions to use medical marijuana. In 2016, the state voters passed Proposition 64: Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) to legalize recreational marijuana for persons aged 21 years and above. The California State Senate Bill 94 called the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) unified proposition 215 and proposition 64. The bill authorizes counties and cities to make laws (ordinances) to regulate the production, distribution, and sales of cannabis in their jurisdiction in conformity with the act.
In the 2020 elections, Ventura County voters approved the Marijuana Permit Ordinance (Measure O) for the cultivation, processing, and distribution of marijuana in specified locations in the county. Measure O allows for commercial cultivation of marijuana within unincorporated areas (any area not within a city limit) of the county, provided it is not situated within 1,200 feet radius of the following places existing as of March 4, 2020:
Measure O limits the cultivation of cannabis in the county to four basic activities within Agricultural Exclusive (AE) and Industrial (M2 and M3) districts as stated below:
The ordinance does not permit the commercial retail sale of cannabis to the general public within unincorporated areas or outdoor cultivation of cannabis. Sales can, however, be made between licensed distributors. Licensees can hold multiple licenses.
Individuals are permitted to plant, harvest, dry, and process up to six cannabis plants within their residence for adult recreation or medical use. Consumption of cannabis is limited to private properties, and property owners may ban the use and possession of cannabis on their properties.
Cities within the county have ordinances that support or oppose the county ordinance. Oxnard, the largest city in the county, voted to restart its retail cannabis program in November 2020 following the adoption of Ordinance No. 2994. The ordinance permits the issuance of manufacturing, testing, distribution, and retail licenses.
No. Ventura County prohibits manufacturing and production of cannabis within the unincorporated areas of the county. The Marijuana Permit Ordinance is only for the cultivation, processing, and distribution of cannabis.
Different cities in the county have enacted varying regulations on cannabis production, some of which are:
According to Measure O, retailing of cannabis is prohibited in unincorporated areas of the county but allowed in the following cities:
In the cities where dispensaries are permitted by law, marijuana edibles are allowed.
Per Proposition 64 and the California Board of Cannabis Control (BCC) regulation (BCC Regulation 5416(d)), cannabis delivery is legal across the state regardless of local regulations or restrictions. Ventura County cannabis regulation does not have laws on the delivery of cannabis to unincorporated areas. However, some cities within the county such as Ventura, Port Hueneme, and Oxnard permit delivery of cannabis and cannabis products to residential addresses. Delivery of cannabis to persons with valid medical cannabis ID cards is allowed in the county. While cannabis delivery is allowed to residences, it may only be delivered by a state-licensed entity.
The Ventura County Health Care Agency (VCHCA) is responsible for the medical marijuana identification program in the county. To qualify for a Medical Marijuana Identification Card MMIC, the applicant must be recommended for medical marijuana treatment by a physician. The applicant must be diagnosed with a serious medical condition as outlined in the Senate Bill 94. These medical conditions include:
The patient must be a resident of Ventura County and must have an appointment to apply. The appointment is booked by calling (805) 981-5323. On the appointed day, the patient goes to the MMIC program office located at the following address:
Ventura County Public Health
2220 East Gonzales Road, Suite 200
Oxnard, CA 93036
The following documents must be provided by the applicant during the appointment:
Minors (under 18 years of age) may apply for themselves if they are lawfully emancipated or have declared self-sufficiency status. Otherwise, a parent or legal guardian must be involved. A conservator, surrogate decision-maker, attorney-in-fact, or any other person authorized by law to make medical decisions can apply for a qualified patient that cannot make medical decisions.
Once all required documents are submitted, the county will verify and approve or deny the application within 35 days. An applicant can appeal a denial of application or renewal by filling the Denial Appeals Application form. The MMIC is valid for one year.
The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), in its report of Cannabis Sales by County, indicates that the total taxable sales of cannabis in Ventura County was approximately $55 million ($54,898,483) in 2020. The report, which shows quarterly sales from the second quarter of 2018, reveals that total taxable sales of cannabis grew from $3 million in the second quarter of 2018 to $17 million in the second quarter of 2021. The total taxable sales of the first three quarters in 2021 totals $47 million, which is $7 million more than for the same period in 2020 ($40,343, 269). This huge difference can be attributed to the county ordinance that came into effect from the 1st of January, 2021. The ordinance imposes a tax of 4% on gross receipts on general cannabis cultivation and 1% on cannabis nursery cultivation. Cannabis legalization in the county has positively impacted the revenue of the county.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provides unified crime reports on all cities, towns, and counties in the US. The crimes report submitted by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office indicates that there were 24 marijuana sales arrests and 95 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests in 2016, a year before the state legalized recreational marijuana. In 2017, the number of marijuana arrests reduced to 8, and there were 95 DUI arrests. The drastic drop in marijuana arrests results from the legalization of marijuana in the state. The 2018 figures show that there were seven marijuana arrests and 158 DUI arrests. These figures confirm that fewer marijuana arrests were made, and there was a significant increase in DUI arrests. In 2019, there were four marijuana arrests and 113 DUI arrests. The DUI arrests were lesser than that of 2018, and the marijuana arrests reduced further. In 2020, there were six marijuana arrests and 127 DUI arrests.
The above figures showed that between 2016 (the year before the recreational marijuana law came into effect in the state and county) and 2020 (the latest year with available data), there was a 75% decrease in marijuana arrests and a 33.6% increase in DUI arrests. There is no data yet to measure the impacts of the county regulation that became effective on the 1st of January, 2021.