County Places Temporary Ban on Commercial Cannabis-related Businesses and Cultivation

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Medical Marijuana Ordinance amended to allow for limited nonmedical, indoor cannabis cultivation

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The County of Santa Clara is banning commercial, nonmedical cannabis-related businesses and commercial cannabis cultivation in unincorporated Santa Clara County, effective for 45 days. The prohibition may be extended for up to two years. On Tuesday, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors passed a temporary moratorium (Ordinance No. NS-300.914) on commercial cannabis businesses, and at the same time, amended the Patient and Caregiver Medical and Personal Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance (Ordinance No. NS-300.884) to permit limited indoor personal, nonmedical cannabis cultivation, pursuant to the passage of Prop. 64

“A temporary moratorium will provide more time to help address health, safety and environmental concerns surrounding cannabis businesses,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman. “But equally important is the need to increase funding for the Sheriff’s Office to combat illegal grow operations, especially in the Santa Cruz Mountains.”

The moratorium item will return to the Board of Supervisors for discussion at its Oct. 17 meeting. The administration will report back on resources needed for illegal grow eradication, suggestions for enforcement of existing laws for illegal cultivation and the County’s opportunity to comment on the State’s emergency rule making powers.

“It’s clear that illegal cannabis cultivation is widespread in the rural hillsides of Santa Clara County,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager.  “As the state finishes its regulations, we need to respect the voters’ wishes and develop a regulatory framework for this industry because the status quo is just not acceptable.” 

The County started implementing cannabis regulations three years ago. In 2014, the County banned cannabis dispensaries and commercial cultivation operations in the unincorporated areas. In 2015, the Board of Supervisors adopted the ordinance that regulates the cultivation of medical cannabis by patients and caregivers.

With the passage of Proposition 64 (the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, AUMA) which changes the legal status of nonmedical cannabis in California, the County is updating its Cultivation Ordinance that regulates medical and personal cultivation.  Until the passage of AUMA, indoor and outdoor nonmedical cannabis cultivation was prohibited. The County will continue to prohibit outdoor nonmedical cannabis cultivation; however, indoor personal cultivation is now permitted, with regulations, under the Medicinal and Personal Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance (Ordinance No. NS-300.913).

Effective immediately, residents in the unincorporated area will be permitted to:

  • Grow cannabis indoors, for nonmedical purposes: no more than six plants, subject to reasonable regulations.  The six plants must be grown within a single space no larger than 50 square feet in a single room or in a fully-enclosed and secure accessory structure.
  • Grow cannabis indoors, for medical purposes: a single layer of plants in a space no larger than 50 square feet, in a single room or in a fully-enclosed and secure accessory structure, subject to reasonable regulations.
  • Grow outdoors, for medical purposes: up to twelve plants, subject to reasonable regulations.

In addition to plant and space limitations:

    • Cultivators must comply with existing County building safety standards;
    • Total wattage of grow lights or other electrical equipment must not exceed 1,200 watts per circuit; and
    • Grow lights should be listed and labeled for residential use only.

“The temporary cannabis moratorium gives the County time to monitor the effects of the new cannabis industry in California, as well as make our position clear to State authorities who may be receiving license applications from prospective businesses in the unincorporated areas,” said Sylvia Gallegos, Deputy County Executive. “Our message to current and prospective growers is that the cannabis cultivation in the unincorporated areas continues to be illegal.”   

The temporary moratorium will be effective immediately.