Monterey County Cannabis Ordinances
Description of Monterey County’s Cannabis Regulatory Scheme:
Monterey County adopted an ordinance that extends its medical cannabis activity regulatory scheme to both adult use cannabis activities on December 5th, 2017.
In order to conduct commercial cannabis activities within the unincorporated areas of Monterey County, operators must obtain the following permits and licenses from the County: a Use Permit, a Commercial Cannabis Business Permit, and a Business License.
Pursuant to Monterey County Code Chapter 21.67, medical cannabis activities are allowed in certain zoning districts with a one-time discretionary Use Permit. The Use Permit runs with the land, is issued to a property owner, and requires certain conditions be placed on the use of the land. Cultivation is only allowed within existing greenhouses and industrial buildings within the following zoning districts: Light Industrial, Heavy Industrial, Agricultural Industrial, and Farmland. Outdoor cultivation is not permitted. Retail facilities are only permitted in Light Commercial and Heavy Commercial zoning districts. Manufacturing is only permitted in Heavy Commercial, Light Industrial, Heavy Industrial, Agricultural Industrial, and in Farmland zoning districts when combined with a cultivation permit. Testing and distribution/transportation are only permitted in the following zoning districts: Heavy Commercial, Light Industrial, Heavy Industrial and Agricultural Industrial.
In addition to a Use Permit, a business operator must also obtain a Commercial Cannabis Business Permit. This is an annual non-transferable permit that is issued administratively to the operator. In addition to being located on a property with an approved Use Permit, criteria for approval includes: review of standard operating procedures to ensure that adequate track-n-trace measures, security protocols, quality control measures, and recordkeeping policies in accordance with state law and federal enforcement priorities. People or entities having more than 10% interest in the business and all employees will also need to pass a criminal background check before a Business Permit can be issued.
Lastly, each operator must register annually with the Treasure-Tax Collector’s Office to obtain a Business License. The Business License aids in collection and reporting of the cannabis business tax, which is discussed below.
Pursuant to Monterey County Code Chapter 7.100, operators are also required to pay the commercial cannabis tax. The current tax rates are: $15.00 per square of canopy of cultivation of mature plants; $2.00 per square foot of canopy of cultivation of immature plants; and 5% of the gross receipts of dispensaries/deliveries, manufacturers, testing laboratories, distributors, and transporters. Monterey County is still in the process of determining whether it is going to add adult-use commercial activities to the above regulatory structure. However, the commercial cannabis tax that was approved by the voters (codified at Chapter 7.100) applies the tax to both medical and adult-use commercial cannabis.