Cannabis Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

GENERAL INFORMATION

Q:   The State of California has legalized cannabis; how does that apply apply to Riverside County?
A:  

On November 8, 2016, the California voters approve Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (“AUMA”), which legalized adult recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.  Under State law, adults may now use, posses, process, transport or give away 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.  The AUMA further allows adults to cultivate six (6) plants inside a private residence or within a locked area on the grounds of a private residence.  While the AUMA allows local governments to ‘reasonably regulate’ indoor cultivation, local governments cannot outright ban indoor cultivation of six plants within a private residence or a locked accessory structure. However, AUMA does recognize local control to regulate or prohibit all outdoor cultivation and all commercial marijuana activities, including dispensaries, manufacturers, testing laboratories, and delivery services, as well as any other marijuana businesses that may develop as a result of the new law.

On June 27, 2017 the Governor signed Bill 94, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”).  The MAUCRSA combined the medical and adult-use regulatory schemes to create one single regulatory structure at the state level.  The MAUCRSA continues to recognize local control and the state cannot approve licenses for cannabis businesses and cannabis activities if the license would not be in compliance with the local government’s ordinances or regulations. The MAUCRSA also continues to recognize the ability of local governments to prohibit all outdoor cultivation and any other cannabis businesses and/or activities. But local governments must still allow the cultivation of six plants inside a private residence or inside a fully enclosed and secure accessory structure.

On October 23, 2018, the County of Riverside Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance establishing the permitting process and regulations for commercial cannabis activities. As of December 23, 2018, the commercial cannabis activities regulations became effective. However, the County only has land use jurisdiction in the unincorporated areas of the County and is only responsible for permitting commercial cannabis activities in these areas. As of December 26, 2018, the Riverside County Planning Department will accept conditional use permit applications for commercial cannabis testing, distribution, manufacturing, and wholesale nurseries. Commercial cannabis retail, cultivation, and microbusiness applicants must participate in a proposal process by which the County will seek and evaluate proposals from interested parties, where only a limited number of proposals will be selected to move forward to application submital. Please see Article XIXh. of Ordinance No. 348 for regulations on "Commercial Cannabis Activities."

     
Q:   Is commercial cannabis legal in the Riverside County?
A:   Commercial cannabis activities may be legal with an approved conditional use permit. Please see Article XIXh. of Ordinance No. 348 for regulations on "Commercial Cannabis Activities."
     
Q:   How many conditional use permit applications for commercial cannabis activities will be accepted by the County?
A:   In the first year of implementation of the new commercial cannabis regulations, the County will accept and process 50 cultivation and 19 retail conditional use permit applications, as selected by the County's approved implementation process. Currently, there is no limit to the amount of applications accepted and processed for commercial cannabis testing, distribution, manufacturing, and wholesale nurseries.
     
Q:   Is there a specific or unique application that shall be used to apply for a commercial cannabis activity conditional use permit?
A:   No. The existing application form (Form 295-1010, "Application for Land Use and Development") that is used for all other conditional use permit applications shall be used. Additionally, exisiting CUP applications fees apply to any commercial cannabis application.
     

CANNABIS INDUSTRY

Q:   How do I permit a cannabis business within an unincorporated area of the County of Riverside?
A:   Please refer to Article XIXh of Ordinance No. 348 for the permitting process and regulations for commercial cannabis uses.
     
Q:   What types of permits will be required to operate a cannabis business in the County?
A:   A number of County departments will be involved in permitting or licensing cannabis businesses, including Planning, County Counsel, Fire, Public Health, Building & Safety, and Treasurer and Tax Collector. Please refer to Article XIXh of Ordinance No. 348 for permitting requirements, which shall include, at a minimum, a conditional use permit and a development agreement.
     
       
Q:   Will the State be licensing cannabis businesses, in addition to the County?
A:   Yes. In addition to any approvals required by a local jurisdiction, cannabis businesses must obtain a state license prior to operating. More information on state licensing is available here.
     
Q:   I am located in a City. Will I need to obtain permits from both the City and County?
A:   No. The County is responsible for permitting in the unincorporated areas of the County only. Please contact the respective cities within the County to inquire about city regulations for cannabis businesses.
 

PERSONAL CULTIVATION

Q:   Can adults grow their own cannabis? Is a permit required?
A:   Under Proposition 64, adults age 21+ can grow a maximum of six cannabis plants per residence for personal, nonmedical use. Adults who grow cannabis for personal use are responsible for knowing and obeying all applicable state and local regulations.
 

WHAT’S LEGAL?

Q:   What is Prop 64?
A:  

On November 8, 2016, the California voters approve Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (“AUMA”), which legalized adult recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21.  Under State law, adults may now use, posses, process, transport or give away 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.  The AUMA further allows adults to cultivate six (6) plants inside a private residence or within a locked area on the grounds of a private residence.  While the AUMA allows local governments to ‘reasonably regulate’ indoor cultivation, local governments cannot outright ban indoor cultivation of six plants within a private residence or a locked accessory structure. However, AUMA does recognize local control to regulate or prohibit all outdoor cultivation and all commercial marijuana activities, including dispensaries, manufacturers, testing laboratories, and delivery services, as well as any other marijuana businesses that may develop as a result of the new law.

On June 27, 2017 the Governor signed Bill 94, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”).  The MAUCRSA combined the medical and adult-use regulatory schemes to create one single regulatory structure at the state level.  The MAUCRSA continues to recognize local control and the state cannot approve licenses for cannabis businesses and cannabis activities if the license would not be in compliance with the local government’s ordinances or regulations. The MAUCRSA also continues to recognize the ability of local governments to prohibit all outdoor cultivation and any other cannabis businesses and/or activities. But local governments must still allow the cultivation of six plants inside a private residence or inside a fully enclosed and secure accessory structure.
     
Q:   When does Prop 64 become effective?
A:   The voters approved Proposition 64 on November 8, 2016, and it became effective immediately. However, the state will not begin licensing commercial cannabis activities until January 1, 2018.  Note that the MAUCRSA continues to recognize local control and the state cannot approve licenses for cannabis businesses and cannabis activities if the license would not be in compliance with the local government’s ordinances or regulations. The MAUCRSA also continues to recognize the ability of local governments to prohibit all outdoor cultivation and any other cannabis businesses and/or activities. Local governments must still allow the cultivation of six plants inside a private residence or inside a fully enclosed and secure accessory structure.
     
Q:   How much cannabis can a person possess?
A:   Under Proposition 64, adults age 21+ can possess up to 28.5 grams of dried cannabis flower and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. However, the MAUCRSA continues to recognize local control and the state cannot approve licenses for cannabis businesses and cannabis activities if the license would not be in compliance with the local government’s ordinances or regulations.
     
Q:   Can people smoke cannabis in public?
A:   No. Prop 64 prohibits adults from smoking cannabis in any public place and where smoking tobacco is prohibited. If you are a renter, or you live in subsidized housing, then your lease or rental agreement may prohibit you from consuming cannabis in your unit. Additionally, Ordinance No. 866 prohibits smoking cannabis in County owned, leased, or operated property.
     
Q:   What about driving under the influence of cannabis?
A:   Prop 64 does not change existing laws making it illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis.
     
Q:   How can I report cannabis businesses operating illegally in the unincorporated areas?
A:   To report an unpermitted business or activity, please contact the Riverside County Code Enforcement Department at (951) 955-2004 or email: code@rivco.org                         .


PARENTS AND YOUTH

Q:   Can children legally use or grow non-medical cannabis under Proposition 64?
A:   No. It remains illegal for persons under 21 years of age to grow, use or possess cannabis for non-medical purposes. If a minor under 18 years of age is cited for using, growing or possessing non-medical cannabis, Proposition 64 requires him or her to perform community service and undergo counseling.
     
Q:   Are there rules about advertising to kids?
A:   Yes. Proposition 64 prohibits the marketing and advertising of cannabis to minors and within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers and youth centers. It establishes strict packaging/labeling standards, including warning labels and child-resistant packaging to keep cannabis products out of the hands of children. Please refer to Article XIXh of Ordinance No. 348, specifically Section 19.505 P., for additional local requirements about signage.
     
Q:   Are cannabis businesses required to locate a certain distance away from schools, churches or parks?
A:   Yes. Proposition 64 sets a default buffer of 600 feet from schools, day care centers and youth centers. Local jurisdictions may modify this distance to be larger or smaller and may designate additional “sensitive uses” that trigger the distance requirement. Please refer to Article XIXh of Ordinance No. 348 for further details on required buffers within the unincorporated areas of the County of Riverside, which may be larger than that of Proposition 64.
     
Q:   Is cannabis smoking restricted in and around schools?
A:   Yes. Proposition 64 prohibits smoking cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center while children are present. This prohibition does not apply to smoking upon the grounds of a private residence, unless such smoking is detectable by others on the grounds of such a school, day care center, or youth center while children are present. (Health and Safety Code §11362.3.(a)(3))
 

STATE REGULATIONS

Q:   Will products be required to have warning labels and dosage information?
A:   Yes. The state is in the process of developing detailed requirements for product labeling and packaging. At a minimum, these will include warning labels and/or symbols, dosage information and child-resistant packaging.
     
Q:   Will there be any regulations as to what is in substances?
A:   Yes. The State is developing regulations for testing products to ensure they are not contaminated or have mislabeled contents or potency. County agencies, such as the Department of Public Health, are likely to play a role in enforcing these regulations.
     
Q:   What will the state tax revenues on cannabis sales be used for?
A:  

Proposition 64 established a 15% State excise tax on all retail sales of medical and nonmedical cannabis. State tax revenue will be used to cover the State’s costs to administer and enforce cannabis regulation. Then:

$2 million per year to the University of California at San Diego Center for Medical Cannabis Research to study medical cannabis

$10 million per year for 11 years for public California universities to research and evaluate new nonmedical cannabis laws

$3 million per year for five years to the California Highway Patrol to establish and adopt protocols to detect impaired driving

$10 million per year, increasing each year by $10 million reaching $50 million in 2022, for grants to local health departments and community-based nonprofits supporting “job placement, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment, system navigation services, legal services to address barriers to reentry, and linkages to medical care for communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies

Remaining revenues will be distributed as follows:

60% to youth programs, including drug education, prevention, and treatment.

20% to prevent and alleviate environmental damage from illegal marijuana producers.

20% to programs designed to reduce driving under the influence of cannabis and a grant program designed to reduce negative impacts on health or safety resulting from the legalization of cannabis.

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