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Frequently asked questions

Does the City of Sacramento allow commercial cultivation?

Yes. The current moratorium on marijuana cultivation will expire on April 3, 2017.  With the proper permits, cultivation will be allowed on a case by case basis in the following zoming 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
Can a marijuana cultivation be a commercial operation?

No. Until a marijuana cultivation business is licensed by the State of California, the business cannot commercially cultivate or distribute marijuana for profit.  The State does not anticipate issuing licenses before January 2018.  Without a State license, a marijuana cultivation 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 marijuana cultivation business and how do I obtain them?

In order to operate a marijuana cultivation 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 Revenue Division.

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.

What is a Conditional Use Permit?

A Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for marijuana cultivation is a City Planning Division land use permit which must be obtained for the subject property before a cultivation permit can be issued.  The CUP process, which includes a public hearing, evaluates the site to determine whether or not marijuana cultivation 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 cultivation is allowed on the property where I plan to cultivate?

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 marijuana while my permit applications are being processed?

No.  With the exception of Registered Applicants (see below), marijuana 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 marijuana cultivation Conditional Use Permit or a marijuana 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 cultivation 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.

What is the City's Tax on Marijuana Businesses?

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

Is there a cap to the number of cultivation 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 marijuana business can obtain?

The City will be following the State’s lead on the number of different licenses a marijuana business can hold.  State regulations for both the Medical Cannabis Regulation Safety Act (MCRSA) and Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) or Prop 64 are still currently being established.

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

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

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.

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.

Does the City allow manufacturing, testing, distribution or transportation of marijuana?

Manufacturing, testing, distribution or transportation of marijuana are currently not permitted in the City of Sacramento.  However, regulations are currently being developed for these types of businesses and will be submitted to the City Council for direction in the near future.

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

No. Commercial cultivation 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 marijuana 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
Class A (Up to 5,000 sq. ft.)  $9,700  $8,240
Class B (Up to 10,000 sq. ft.)  $20,210  $17,230
Class C (Up to 22,000 sq. ft.)  $28,910  $24,630