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County Administrator's Office

Sonoma County Cannabis Program

Cannabis Policy Development - Phase II

Sonoma County Cannabis Program 750

Return to Cannabis Legislation & Policy

Regulating the cannabis industry and establishing a successful and comprehensive local program is a multi-phase and multi-year effort. The goal of Phase I in 2016 was to work with the community to develop a comprehensive regulatory scheme for the local cannabis industry that was consistent with new State laws and the County’s mission. Having established a local regulatory scheme, Phase II in 2017 will focus on implementation, community engagement, and evaluating and addressing impacts.


Ordinance Implementation

To prepare for and begin permitting and collecting taxes, County departments will need to hire and train staff, develop specific rules and guidelines based on the ordinance, develop materials such as checklists and fact sheets, engage and educate the community, and build out multi-departmental online permitting, tax collection, and database systems.


Data Collection and Analysis

While the medical cannabis industry has been around for decades, there is very little hard and reliable data on the size, operations, and impacts of it. This work will focus on collecting data from participating industry operators as well as from community organizations such as schools, hospitals, and the tourism community. This will enable a better understanding of the industry and its impacts on the community, and where possible, an understanding of how local regulations are affecting both.


Programs to Address Industry Impacts

The County will focus on developing programs that address the impacts of the cannabis industry, such as programs related to health and human services, education, and environmental protection and clean up. This may also include programs that assist the industry directly such as job training and education on how to obtain a permit and run a business.


Inclusion and Exclusion Zones

In December 2016, the Board gave direction to staff to develop inclusion and exclusion combining zones for future consideration. The Ad Hoc will work on the development of combining zones that would allow the Board to carve out specific areas or properties on which to include or exclude certain cannabis land uses separately from what is allowed pursuant to the base zoning district.


Advisory Group and Community Engagement

The County will convene the Sonoma County Cannabis Advisory Group comprised of stakeholders and subject matter experts to evaluate the implementation of the new cannabis ordinance, including data on trends and impacts, and provide recommendations for the next phases of implementation. The County is also committed to broader community engagement to receive more feedback and input as implementation progresses.