Sonoma County Cannabis Program
The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures will be conducting winterization inspections throughout the county for cannabis cultivation sites beginning November 15, 2023 to verify compliance with the Sonoma County Cannabis Land Use Ordinance Best Management Practices (BMPs). The implementation of BMPs is required by the County’s Cannabis Land Use Ordinance pursuant to Section 26-88-254 (d), which specifies that all cultivation activities be conducted and maintained in compliance with the BMPs for outdoor cultivation, as well as for all cultivation types relative to the management of pesticides and fertilizers.
The intent of these BMPs is to reduce erosion associated with cultivation activities and to prevent controllable sources of sediment, nutrients, pathogens, and pesticides from moving off site into streams and adjacent lands in Sonoma County. Not every BMP will apply to each operation but should be selected by the property operator/grower as necessary and applicable to mitigate negative environmental impacts of farming. Selected BMPs should be planned for and employed in each operation as appropriate. BMP implementation represents responsible land management and good stewardship. These practices are critical for environmental resource conservation and protection.
Multi-Tenant Ordinance Update
On June 6, 2023 the Board of Supervisors adopted Ordinance 6436 amending the Cannabis Land Use Ordinance. The ordinance permanently amends the multi-tenant provision in Section 26-88-250(f)(2) to only allow ministerial review of smaller-scale multi-tenant cannabis cultivation permits.
Section 26-88-254(f)(2) has been amended to read as follows:
Multi-Tenant Operations. Multiple zoning permits may be issued on a single parcel provided that the aggregate cultivation area does not require a use permit per Table 1 A-D Allowed Cannabis Uses and Permit Requirements.
This change was previously established by Urgency Ordinance 6354 on September 21, 2021 and extended by Urgency Ordinance 6356 on October 26, 2021, until September 10, 2023.
Cannabis Tax Update
On May 23, 2023 the Board of Supervisors adopted Ordinance 6433 amending the Cannabis Business Tax Ordinance. The key changes are:
- Updated reference to Chapter 26 of the Sonoma County code, to refer to correct section for definitions 26-04-020.
- Amended the definitions of “Indoor”, “Personal cannabis cultivation”, and “Treasurer-tax collector” to make non-substantive corrections.
- Amended the cultivation tax rates to the new rates approved by the Board on February 28, 2023 and removed all references to the temporary rate reduction. New cultivation tax rates effective July 1, 2023:
- Outdoor - $0.75 per square foot
- Mixed-Light - $3.00 per square foot
- Indoor - $12.50 per square foot
- Changed the language regarding reporting and remittance of tax, to clarify when cultivation area (cannabis canopy) verifications should be performed and who has authority over this process. Amended language aligns with existing County practice.
- Changed the language regarding tax assessment hearing, application, and determination to align with existing tax-collector review processes in order to streamline cannabis assessment appeals for theoperator and tax-collector.
- Changed the language regarding appeal hearing to explicitly reference the Board’s option to select the Hearing Officer, in line with current practice, and make the Hearing Officer’s decision final.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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)