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Frequently asked questions

What types of businesses are currently permitted by the City of Sacramento?

The City of Sacramento currently permits the following medical cannabis businesses: cultivation, manufacturing and testing laboratories. With the proper permits, cultivation will be permitted on a case by case basis in the following zoning districts:

  • Agricultural A
  • General Commercial C-2
  • Heavy Commercial C-4
  • Light Industrial M-1 and M-1(S)
  • Heavy Industrial M-2 and M-2(S)

Cultivation must be within a fully enclosed building not be visible from the public right-of-way. Permits may be issued for three different cultivation types, namely:

  • Class A for indoor cultivation of no more than 5,000 sq. ft. of total canopy size
  • Class B for indoor cultivation of no more than 10,000 sq. ft. of total canopy size
  • Class C for indoor cultivation of no more than 22,000 sq. ft. of total canopy size

Manufacturing and testing laboratories will be permitted on a case by case basis in the following zoning districts:

  • General Commercial C-2
  • Heavy Commercial C-4
  • Light Industrial M-1 and M-1(S)
  • Heavy Industrial M-2 and M-2(S)
  • Manufacturing - Industrial Park (MIP)
  • Manufacturing - Research and Development (MRD)
Can a cannabis business be a commercial operation?

No. Until a cannabis business is licensed by the State of California, the business cannot commercially operate a cannabis business for profit. The State does not anticipate issuing licenses before January 2018. Without a State license, a cannabis business must operate as a cooperative or a collective of four or more qualified patients, primary caregivers, or persons with a medical marijuana identification card.

What permits do I need to start a cannabis business and how do I obtain them?

In order to operate a cultivation, manufacturing or testing business in the City, you will need two permits: 1) a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) issued by the City's Planning Division; and 2) a Business Operating Permit (BOP) issued by the City's Office of Cannabis Policy and Enforcement.

CUP applications forms may be picked up from the Planning Division at 300 Richards Boulevard, and BOP application forms may be picked up from the Revenue Division at City Hall on 915 I Street Rm 1201. Both applications are also available for download from our Cultivation page.

A CUP application number (or Final Notice of Decision, if available) is required to submit an application for a BOP. The CUP and BOP applications may be reviewed concurrently, but a BOP will not be issued until a CUP for the cultivation site is issued.

Are you currently accepting applications for cultivation, manufacturing and testing?

Yes, the City is still accepting applications for cultivation, manufacturing and testing laboratories.

What is a Conditional Use Permit?

A Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is a City Planning Division land use permit which must be obtained for the subject property before any cannabis permits can be issued. The CUP process, which includes a public hearing, evaluates the site to determine whether or not marijuana business is an appropriate use of the property, consistent with the City’s General Plan and not detrimental to the public health, safety, convenience, or welfare of persons residing, working, visiting or recreating the in the surrounding neighborhood and will not result in the creation of a nuisance.

A CUP is approved by either the Zoning Administrator or the Planning and Design Commission and involves a public hearing and compliance with the General Plan, Zoning Code, and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

  1. The proposed use is allowed within the applicable zoning district and complies with all other applicable provisions of the Zoning Code and the City Code;

  2. The proposed use is consistent with the General Plan and any applicable specific plan;

  3. The design, location, size, and operating characteristics of the proposed activity would be compatible with the existing and future land uses in the vicinity;

  4. The site is physically suitable for the type, density, and intensity of use being proposed, including access, utilities, and the absence of physical constraints;

  5. Granting the permit would not constitute a nuisance or be injurious or detrimental to the public interest, health, safety, convenience, or welfare, or materially injurious to persons, property, or improvements in the vicinity and zoning district in which the property is located; and

  6. The proposed project has been reviewed in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

In addition to the above noted findings, a review authority may also require conditions of approval to address impacts associated with the proposed use.

How do I know if a cannabis business is allowed on the property where I plan to operate?

You can look up the zoning designation for your property by entering your address at:

http://www.cityofsacramento.org/Community-Development/Planning/Current-Planning/Zoning. You can also send an email to planning@cityofsacramento.org and provide the assessor's parcel number and/or the address of the property.

I registered my cultivation operation with the City of Sacramento pursuant to Ordinance No. 2016-0007. Do I get special priority in the application process?

No. The registration process does not grant existing cultivators any special priority. All complete applications will be processed on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Can I cultivate cannabis while my permit applications are being processed?

No.  With the exception of Registered Applicants (see below), cannabis cultivation may not begin on the property until both permits have been approved -- even if your applications have been submitted and are being processed.

Until December 31, 2017, the City will not enforce the requirements for a cannabis cultivation Conditional Use Permit or a cannabis cultivation Business Permit on a Registered Applicant while their permit applications are being processed. However, a Registered Applicant must continue to comply with all the other laws and lawful orders.

A “Registered Applicant” is a person who has done ALL of the following:

  1. Prior to April 14, 2016, registered their cultivation operation with the City of Sacramento pursuant to Ordinance No. 2016-0007;

  2. Prior to June 30, 2017, submitted a complete application for a marijuana cultivation Conditional Use Permit pursuant to section 17.108.040 of the Sacramento City Code; and

  3. Prior to June 30, 2017, submitted a complete application for a marijuana cultivation Business Permit pursuant to chapter 5.150 of the Sacramento City Code.

Any cultivation operation that is registered, but fails to submit complete applications for both a conditional use permit and a business permit by the deadline, must cease operations on June 30, 2017. If either permit application is denied, the Registered Applicant must cease all marijuana cultivation operations at that site within 30 days. After December 31, 2017, this policy shall no longer apply and all cultivation permit requirements will be enforced.

What is the term of a cannabis Business Operating Permit?

Business Operating Permits are valid for one year from the time they are issued and need to be renewed annually. Conditional Use Permits are attached to the property and do not expire as long as the use does not change.

How are your permit fees calculated?

The fees are calculated based on the administrative and enforcement efforts that will be required to run the City's cannabis program.

What is the City's Tax on Cannabis Businesses?

All cannabis businesses are subject to a 4% gross receipts tax.

Is there a cap to the number of permits the City will issue?

There is currently no cap to the number of permits the City will issue. However, this can change due to a number of factors, which may include the availability of land or properties, or the number of existing marijuana businesses in the City.

Is there a limit to the number of licenses a cannabis business can obtain?

The City does not have a limit on the number of cannabis permits a business can hold. However, it is important to check State regulations for both the Medical Cannabis Regulation Safety Act (MCRSA) and Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) or Prop 64 for potential State limits on the number and license combinations a cannabis business can hold.

Are there distance requirements from a cannabis operation site to schools or parks?

Per State Law, cannabis business sites cannot be located within a 600-ft of a school. The City's Planning and Development Code does not prohibit cultivation, manufacturing or testing sites close to parks, but if the site is within 600 ft. of a neighborhood or community park, the applicant will be required to get the Conditional Use Permit approval from the Planning and Design Commission instead of the zoning administrator.

Note that the Budget Trailer Bill on Cannabis signed by Gov. Brown in June 2017 has 600-ft requirements from child day care centers and youth centers.  

Is cultivation in a greenhouse allowed?

Greenhouse cultivation is allowed, as long as it is not visible from public right-of-way, and you follow the conditions set forth in your Conditional Use Permit and business operating permit.

What type of permit do I need to operate a nursery for marijuana plants?

Nurseries are classified as part of cultivation. To operate a nursery for marijuana plants, you need to obtain a Conditional Use Permit for cultivation.

If I have multiple buildings in one parcel and plan to use all of them for cultivation, do I need multiple CUPs?

No, you only need one CUP if the uses for the buildings are all cultivation.  However, if there is a different use than cultivation, you will need a separate CUP.

Does the City allow medical marijuana dispensaries?

Yes. In 2010, the City of Sacramento adopted its initial regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries. The regulations can be found in Title 5, chapter 5.150 of the Sacramento City Code. There are currently 30 dispensaries operating in the City of Sacramento. A moratorium has since been enacted and no applications for new dispensaries are currently being accepted.

What is the difference between Nonvolatile and Volatile Manufacturing?

Non-volatile manufacturing, as defined in the City of Sacramento Code is "the production, preparation, propagation and compounding of cannabis and cannabis products, without the use of a volatile solvent. Nonvolatile cannabis manufacturing includes and is not limited to the extraction of a substance from a cannabis plant with nonvolatile solvents, the infusion of mixture of cannabis into another substance, the preparation of an edible item that includes cannabis, and the packaging and labeling of cannabis or cannabis products. Nonvolatile cannabis manufacturing does not include cannabis cultivation."

Volatile solvents, as defined in the State Health and Safety Code are "volatile organic compounds, including: (1) explosive gases, such as Butane, Propane, Xylene, Styrene, Gasoline, Kerosene, 02 or H2; and (2) dangerous poisons, toxins, or carcinogens, such as Methanol, Isopropyl Alcohol, Methylene Chloride, Acetone, Benzene, Toluene, and Trichloroethylene.”

Is the use of Ethanol allowed in cannabis manufacturing?

Use of Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) as an extraction agent/solvent is prohibited in Sacramento. Ethanol is classified as both a Class 1B Flammable Liquid, (liquids having a flash point below 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius) and a boiling point at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and a Volatile Solvent. A volatile solvent is a solvent that is or produces a flammable gas or vapor that, when present in the air in sufficient quantities and will create explosive or ignitable mixtures (§40100 CCR Title 17, Division 1, Chapter 13, Article 1 of proposed Manufactured Cannabis Safety regulations). However, the use of ethanol may be allowed for post-extraction processes, and also as a cleaning agent. Please contact the Fire Department at prevention@sfd.cityofsacramento.org if you plan on using ethanol in your post-production process.

Does the City allow commercial cultivation and manufacturing for non-medical purposes now that the voters passed Prop. 64?

No. Commercial cultivation and manufacturing for non-medical purposes is prohibited by State law without a State license. The State does not anticipate issuing licenses until January 2018. Currently, Prop. 64 allows the personal cultivation of up to six living cannabis plants inside a person's private residence.

What are the Business Operating Permit Fees?

According to the permit fees approved by the City Council on March 7, 2017, the fee schedule are as follows:

Permit Type Initial/Start-Up Permit Fee Renewal
Cultivation Class A (Up to 5,000 sq. ft.) $9,700 $8,240
Cultivation Class B (Up to 10,000 sq. ft.) $20,210 $17,230
Cultivation Class C (Up to 22,000 sq. ft.) $28,910 $24,630
Manufacturing $30,900 $26,680
Testing Laboratories $15,870 $13,570