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County Administrator's Office

Sonoma County Cannabis Program

Sonoma County Cannabis Program

Cannabis Tax Review Update

On February 28, 2023 and following the Board's discussion and direction on March 15, 2022 regarding the County's cannabis business tax, staff returned with the requested report and information about the pros and cons of transitioning to a gross receipts taxation model for cannabis cultivation from the current square footage model.

The Board of Supervisors approved staff's recommendation of Option 1: Maintain square footage model, but adjust rates based on HdL’s tax rate convertor model, with annual review.

Recommended gross receipt rate of 2.5% equating to: $0.75/sq. ft. for outdoor cultivation; $12.50/sq. ft. for indoor cultivation; and $3.00/sq. ft. for mixed-light cultivation. The new tax rates would go into effect on July 1, 2023. This item is tentatively scheduled for the Board of Supervisors in May 2023. 

Link to February 28, 2023 Item Materials on the Board of Supervisors Agenda website

New Department of Cannabis Control Regulations

On November 10, 2022, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) announced the adoption of new regulations. Among the changes is a revised definition of outdoor cultivation to include light deprivation as an allowable activity. 

Although the definition of outdoor cultivation has changed at the state level, the County's definitions remain unchanged and in effect. As such, conducting light deprivation continues to require a local permit for mixed-light cultivation. The County cannot pursue any interim ordinance updates (including changes to definitions) related to the current comprehensive program update while that process is ongoing.

Below are the current County of Sonoma definitions of outdoor and mixed-light cultivation per Sec. 26-04-020:

  • Cannabis Cultivation - Mixed-Light. Cannabis cultivation in a greenhouse or other similar structure using natural light, light deprivation, and/or any combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting.
  • Cannabis Cultivation - Outdoor. Cannabis cultivation using no artificial lighting conducted in the ground or in containers outdoors. 

Read the new DCC regulations on the DCC website.

Reminder for all Sonoma County Cannabis Cultivators

Please contact the Sonoma County Department of Agriculture / Weights & Measures (AWM) to schedule a cannabis canopy verification before harvest to confirm canopy size for your tax assessment. The inspection fee is $225 per hour. 

For indoor and mixed-light cultivation, a canopy verification should be conducted quarterly. For outdoor cultivation, a canopy verification should be conducted in the fall before harvest. 

In all cases, we are only able to verify canopy for tax purposes when the plants are in the ground and/or growing medium. 

If you suspect damage to your crop due to pests, disease, or an extreme weather event, please contact us right away to schedule a canopy loss verification. 

Call (707) 565-2371 or email

Continuing Multi-tenant Cannabis Land Uses

Multi-tenant Ordinance (No. 6356) Section III(a) states “The expiration date for each zoning permit is hereby extended for 5 years from the date the permit was issued, except that a zoning permit will expire if the use ceases for a continuous period of one year.”   Under this provision, if a multi-tenant cannabis operator wishes to forgo a growing season without expiring their permit, the operator must demonstrate the use has not ceased by maintaining their local cannabis cultivation permit and state cultivation license, maintaining title or lease of the land, paying inspection fees, allowing inspections, complying with BMPs, requesting canopy verifications as needed, and filing tax statements.  

Determining Canopy

The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures is tasked with verifying canopy of cannabis cultivated in Sonoma County. This canopy is determined in a variety of ways. Below is a link to a comprehensive guide on how canopy is determined.

Determining Canopy - A Comprehensive Guide  (PDF: 3.9 MB)