In response to direction from the Board of Supervisors in September 2017, amendments to the Non-Coastal and Coastal Zoning Ordinances were prepared to add language expressly prohibiting commercial cannabis activities as defined in Business and Professions Code section 26001(k), except for deliveries from a licensed facility. These regulations are intended to extend the adult use prohibition previously adopted by the County of Ventura related to commercial medical cannabis activities. This prohibition does not apply to commercial cannabis activities for which State law preempts local regulation.
The proposed ordinance amendments were considered by the County Planning Commission at a public hearing held on Thursday, October 26, 2017. Thereafter, the proposed ordinance amendments were adopted by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, November 14, 2017.
Chronological summary of meetings and hearings
December 15, 2015 – The Board of Supervisors received a report on the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), and provided direction to staff to prepare Zoning Ordinance amendments regulating medical marijuana in unincorporated Ventura County. Documents provided during the Board hearing can be found here.
January 26, 2016 – The Board of Supervisors adopted amendments to the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance and Coastal Zoning Ordinance to prohibit the operation of dispensaries, commercial cultivation and manufacturing of medical marijuana pursuant to the MMRSA. Documents provided at the Board hearing can be found here, and the Board hearing may be viewed here.Late May, 2016 – A series of community meetings were held to provide the public an opportunity to share their concerns and to receive suggestions for ensuring safe access in a manner consistent with the objectives outlined above. A copy of the presentation from the first meetings may be viewed here. County staff received numerous comments and suggestions from the many residents who attended these meetings. Based on the previous direction given by the Board of Supervisors, the comments received from residents in the community meetings, and the regulations established in the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), and the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), County staff developed the draft preliminary regulations that were presented to the Board on December 6, 2016. A copy of those draft preliminary regulations may be viewed here.
November 9, 2016 - The voters of California approved Proposition 64, the AUMA, which extended protections to adult use of cannabis as well as medicinal use.
December 6, 2016 - The Board of Supervisors directed staff to refine the draft preliminary regulations so that it reflects a "go slow" approach and engage industry stakeholders, patients and the broader community in the development of this approach to regulating commercial medical cannabis activities in the unincorporated areas of Ventura County. In response, a revised regulatory outline was developed, a copy of which may be viewed here.
January 2017 - Interested stakeholders were contacted to seek their input and suggestions regarding the draft regulations. The County received numerous comments and many of them were incorporated into the Draft Regulatory Outline.
March 21, 2017 – The Draft Regulatory Outline was presented to the Board of Supervisors. At that hearing the Board of Supervisors took no action.
September 26, 2017 – The Board of Supervisors took two actions related to the regulation of cannabis in Ventura County.
- They directed staff to prepare an ordinance expressly prohibiting in unincorporated Ventura County the operation of retailers, distributors, microbusinesses for, and the commercial cultivation and manufacturing of, marijuana for adult/recreational use as regulated under Proposition 64; and
- The Board directed the Resource Management Agency to work with the Agricultural Commissioner and other appropriate agencies to develop regulations to allow for the cultivation, manufacturing, and processing of industrial hemp and return to the Board with an analysis and preliminary recommendations.
October 26, 2017 – Staff presented draft ordinance Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance and Coastal Zoning Ordinance amendments to the Planning Commission, expressly prohibiting commercial cannabis as directed by the Board in September. The Planning Commission hearing may be viewed here.
November 7, 2017 – The Board of Supervisors directed staff to return with recommendations regarding the regulation of commercial medical cannabis businesses in unincorporated Ventura County within 120 days after the State releases the new cannabis regulations. The Board added guidelines regarding permits for manufacturing/processing, dispensary/delivery, testing/researching and microbusinesses, as well as those for cultivation requirements. The Board also directed that these recommendations would include a tax structure that would cover the cost of enforcement of regulations; analysis of differences and similarities between medical and recreational cannabis regulations after the new state regulations are adopted; information about the difference between transport and delivery; and exclude Oak Park as a location for a dispensary. Documents included for the Board hearing can be viewed here.
November 14, 2017 – The Board of Supervisors approved the proposed ordinance amendments to the NCZO and CZO, expressly prohibiting commercial cannabis activities as defined in Business and Professions Code section 26001(k), except for deliveries from a licensed facility. This prohibition does not apply to commercial cannabis activities for which State law preempts local regulation. Documents included for the Board hearing can be viewed here.
Previous Board DirectionThe Ventura County Board of Supervisors has conducted several public hearings over the past two years to discuss the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) and the development of medical cannabis regulations for unincorporated Ventura County, as well as regulations related to Adult Use Cannabis activities. The Board has heard from members of the community that there is a need for medical cannabis within the county to help residents address serious medical conditions. In an effort to address this need, in early 2016 the Board of Supervisors directed that medical cannabis regulations be developed that meet the following objectives:
- Promote public health and safety, while protecting quality of life for all residents;
- Ensure safe and practical access by residents with a demonstrated medical need;
- Reduce the size of the illicit market for cultivation and retail sale of cannabis;
- Prevent non-medical access and use by youth;
- Reduce environmental harm to water, habitat and wildlife;
- Minimize operational impacts to neighbors and the general community; and
- Provide clear criteria for responsible businesses and patients who wish to operate within the law.
To further guide the development of medical cannabis regulations, the Board directed that the regulations reflect a “go slow” approach, where allowed activities are kept small and limited in number. This approach is intended to give the County the opportunity to gain experience regulating medical cannabis businesses and ensuring the above objectives can be met without negative impacts on the community. In March 2017, the Board took action to suspend preparation of any commercial cannabis activity regulations. In November 2017, the Board of Supervisors again discussed the regulation of commercial cannabis activities and directed staff to return in early 2018 with an analysis and further recommendations.