Cannabis Retailer Application Process
The Cannabis Retail License application period closed at 3:00 P.M. on December 14, 2017. If issued a license, retailers will also have to obtain approval of an Administrative User Permit for the proposed location as well as a State cannabis license. Applicants will be notified of their status upon completion of the review. To find contact information or learn more about the process, feel free to call Mike Ferry, Senior Planner.
State of California and City of Santa Cruz Regulations
With the approval of Proposition 64 (AUMA) in November 2016, adult use of marijuana became legal in California. Under AUMA, personal use and cultivation of up to six (6) plants per residence became legal immediately while commercial uses, including cultivation, testing, manufacturing, distribution and sales, will become legal once State licenses are issued beginning January 2018.
Additionally, Santa Cruz City Council adopted Cannabis Regulations on November 28, 2017. Under this ordinance, the City will allow five (5) retail outlets in industrial and limited commercial zones. Commercial cultivation is limited to 10,000 square feet of indoor growth in industrial zones. Manufacturing and distribution are also allowed in industrial zones. All commercial cannabis uses require the approval of an administrative use permit at a public hearing. Retail uses also require a cannabis retailer license.
The City is not regulating personal use beyond what is allowed by state law.
Check out the City GIS map to find the restricted areas for cannabis and the required buffers for current dispensaries. You can find your address using the search feature.
What are the current medical cannabis regulations?
A medical marijuana dispensary is defined in the City’s Zoning Ordinance as a nonresidential occupancy that is limited to the cultivation, production, acquisition, and dispensing of medical marijuana. The use is not permitted as an accessory use to any other principal, special, or conditional use, nor may it be permitted as a home business within any district of the City. Medical Marijuana dispensaries are allowed in the Community Commercial (CC), Thoroughfare Commercial (CT), Industrial (IG), and General Industrial Performance District (IG-PER 2) zoning districts and require approval of a Special Use Permit by the Planning Commission. The siting criteria includes a 600-foot setback from any residential zoning district, any other medical marijuana dispensary, any public or private school, a public park with a children’s playground, an alcohol or drug recovery or treatment facility, or any residential facility providing mental health/social rehabilitation services. The existing siting criteria restricts where medical marijuana dispensaries can locate to a small section of the Harvey West industrial area and another small section in the west side industrial area.In 2010, the U.S. Attorney General directed Federal drug enforcement agencies to cease enforcement of Federal Narcotic restrictions, including property confiscation, when medical marijuana dispensaries were operating within State and local regulations. The City experienced a surge of applicants requesting permits to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, and as part of the 2010 ordinance revision, the City Council limited the number of dispensaries to two. That limitation also provided a period of time to evaluate impacts from those uses on the neighborhoods in which they were located. The Santa Cruz Police Department reports that there have been no impacts related to calls-for-service from the existing dispensaries.