Sonoma County Policy Updates

The meeting, on January 26th, dealt with the Cannabis Business Tax Ordinance. There have been multiple lawsuits filed against Sonoma County after the passage of the Cannabis Ordinance.

SCGA continues to analyze the tax measure that will be decided on the March 7th Special Election.

Land Use Ordinance

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Dec. 20 to approve the Land Use Ordinance supporting commercial cannabis cultivation in unincorporated Sonoma County.

Some of the key items in the ordinance include:

  • No commercial cultivation on parcels zoned AR/RR
  • 100 sq ft of cultivation area per residence for PERSONAL USE with no plant count limits for medical and 6 plant maximum to align with PROP 64.
  • No personal cultivation in R2, R3, or multiunit housing
  • Fees for permits will range from $1,800 to $12,000 depending on the permit type required

Permits will not be issued until a funding source is identified.  Board approved up to $400,000 be spent on a special election to be held on Mar 7, 2017 to vote on a tax measure.

Tax Measure

There will be a special election on March 7, 2017 to determine if voters support collecting taxes from Sonoma County cannabis businesses.  If the measure does not pass, Sonoma County will not start issuing permits, and it will likely be up to the industry professionals to get another tax measure on the ballot in June of Oct.  It is expected that will take a few months for the county to start processing applications and issuing permits from the time a funding measure passes.  This could be a potential issue for Sonoma County businesses who are hoping to apply for state licenses on Jan. 1, 2018, because the state requires that applicants be in compliance with local jurisdiction policies and have appropriate permits.

Highlights from the tax measure

Cultivation tax rates will initially be set as follows:

Outdoor (can go up to $10/sf OR 10% of gross receipts in future)

  • lC: Cottage                $0.50
  • 1: Specialty                $1.40
  • 2: Small                      $2.10
  • 3: Medium                 $3.50

Indoor (can go up to $22/sf OR 10% of gross receipts in future)

  • IC: Cottage                   $1.88
  • IA: Specialty                $7.50
  • 2A: Small                     $11.25
  • 3A: Medium                $18.75

Mixed Light (can go up to $38/sf OR 10% of gross receipts in future)

  • lC: Cottage                  $1.08
  • lB: Specialty                $4.32
  • 2B: Small                     $6.48
  • 3B: Medium                $10.80

Support businesses will be taxed as follow, initially, if the measure passes, with the flexibility for the county to raise to 10% of gross receipts:

  • Manufacturer                  5% of gross receipts
  • Transporter                     0% of gross receipts
  • Cannabis Nursery         0% of gross receipts
  • Dispensary                      0% of gross receipts
  • Testing Laboratory       0% of gross receipts

Funds from the taxes collected will go into the Sonoma County General Fund.

Additional documentation for Sonoma County can be found here:

Here’s a link to a draft of the Tax ordinance.
More information is available at SCGA.


Report submitted by Women’s CBD Director of Policy – Shannon Hattan

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