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Agricultural Division

Cannabis Permits and Inspections

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Cannabis Ministerial Permitting and AB52 Consultation Process

Under the Cannabis Land Use Ordinance, the Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures is authorized to issue ministerial permits for cottage and small outdoor cannabis cultivation in the agricultural zones. Ministerial permits are not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and thus not subject to the AB 52 consultation process that requires early referral to tribal governments in order to identify and address potential adverse impacts to tribal cultural resources. In order to address potential impacts to tribal cultural resources from ministerial cannabis cultivation permits, the Cannabis Ordinance requires that impacts be avoided, that applications be referred to the Northwest Information Center and local tribes, and that a use permit be required if mitigation is recommended by a cultural resource survey or a local tribe. (SCC Sec. 26-88-254(f)(14).)

All cannabis cultivation land use applications must include a confidential cultural resource survey conducted by a qualified archeologist. Applicants are encouraged to work with the archeologist to conduct a preliminary survey and design their projects in order to ensure impacts to cultural and historic resources are avoided. We recommend applicants ask their consultants conducting the cultural resources survey to consult with interested tribes during the resource survey.  Consultants may contact the California Native American Heritage Commission to obtain a list of tribes.

The Policy and Procedure for Implementing the Cannabis Ordinance Cultural and Historic Resource Standard

Zoning Permits for Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation

The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture / Weights & Measures issues Zoning Permits for Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation in Agriculturally zoned areas (Land Intensive Agriculture, Land Extensive Agriculture, and Diverse Agriculture) of the unincorporated county. The department will be issuing:

  • Outdoor cottage permits in the Land Intensive Agriculture (LIA) zone and
  • Outdoor cultivation permits of 10,000 sq. ft. or less in the Land Extensive Agriculture (LEA) and Diverse Agriculture (DA) zones. 
  • All other outdoor cultivation permits require a use permit and must be obtained through the Permit and Resource Management Department (Permit Sonoma). 

A complete Cannabis Cultivation Zoning Permit Application is required for all zoning permits issued by the Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures. 

A complete Cannabis Cultivation Renewal Application is required 60 days prior to the expiration date of the current permit.  Applications for permit renewal may be administratively approved by the agency having jurisdiction provided there are no outstanding violations related to health, safety, land use, or tax.

Best Management Practices Compliance

In addition, we will be conducting in-season monitoring inspections of outdoor, indoor, and mixed light cultivation, and nursery operations to verify compliance with the Cannabis Cultivation Best Management Practices.

Loss Determination Inspections

The department will also be performing loss determination and verification inspections for outdoor, indoor, and mixed light cultivators who experience loss due to the presence of visible surface pests and disease or weather-related loss that is visibly apparent. The loss determination and verification are fee-based inspections for tax relief associated with un-marketable product.

Scales and Scanner Inspections

The Division of Weights and Measures will be inspecting and sealing all scales used by cultivators and dispensaries across which a sale is made. Scanner systems at point of sale must be accurate and labeling of packaged products must be compliant with State and Federal regulations.

For More Information

To learn more, please visit the Sonoma County Cannabis Program where you will find comprehensive information about commercial cultivation and personal use, permits, taxes, legislative updates, policy, and more.