Comprehensive Cannabis Policy

The City Council listed development of a comprehensive cannabis policy as one of the top 5 goals in the last goal setting process.  The City has developed the policy and program over the past year using the City Council Cannabis Policy Subcommittee. The policy is multi-faceted in addressing all aspects of the industry and provides guidance to those looking to do business in Santa Rosa.  

On December 19, 2017, the City Council unanimously adopted the City’s Comprehensive Cannabis Ordinance.  The regulations address the locational and operational requirements for personal cannabis cultivation and commercial cannabis businesses, identifying the permit compliance path for both medical and adult use activities. 

In March 2020, City staff made an official zoning code interpretation as to what land use classifications and permit regulations apply for industrial hemp supply chain uses and the retail sale of hemp-derived CBD products. Zoning Code Sections 20-24.030 provides regulations for the industrial land uses and permit requirements and is interpreted to include hemp processing, distribution/packaging, and manufacturing of industrial hemp. Sale of hemp products and CBD products are allowed as "general retail" under Zoning Code 20-23.030 according to the interpretation; however, businesses that sell hemp-derived food and beverage are required to obtain a Sonoma County Health Permit. All businesses need to adhere to local and state cannabis ordinances for advertising. 

The ordinance goes into effect on January 19, 2018. 

Highlights of the Ordinance:

  • Establishes cultivation limits for personal medical and adult use
  • Consolidates the City’s interim cannabis policies
  • Directs all commercial cannabis businesses to commercial and industrial districts
  • Allows for both adult use and medical use cannabis businesses
  • Establishes an operator in good standing program
  • Provides standards to address security, odor, lighting and noise
  • Allows for new retail (dispensaries) in commercial and industrial districts
  • Addresses overconcentration of dispensaries with buffers to schools and other dispensaries
  • Allows for delivery services only through a storefront retail facility
  • Allows consideration of on-site consumption and special events
  • Prohibits outdoor cultivation of commercial cannabis businesses
  • Prohibits outdoor cultivation of personal cannabis adjacent a school
Prohibits cultivation in the -LIL (Limited Light Industrial) Combining District

For more information see the Commercial Cannabis Application Support page.