November 21, 2022

California cannabis dispensary zoning laws

At Manzuri Law, our California cannabis attorneys provide end-to-end legal services for industry professionals, including those who do business in the only consumer facing aspect of the supply chain: Retail Dispensaries.

Cannabis or marijuana dispensaries include storefront retailers — where customers can visit and buy goods in person — and delivery-only operations, which have their own set of Regulations under the California Department of Cannabis Control Delivery Regulations.

Often the first big challenge for starting a storefront retail dispensary is finding properly zoned real estate. The already competitive real estate market in California, combined with “green zone” regulations (which place 600 feet buffers between sensitive uses, like schools and youth centers) can significantly restrict where a cannabis business is allowed to operate. Here is what you need to know before you get started.

California’s Cannabis Dispensary Zoning Laws

Currently, under Senate Bill 94,  482 cities and 58 counties in the state of California are given autonomy in regulating cannabis business land use and zoning within their own jurisdictions.

This means cannabis zoning laws not only vary by location — variations exist between both the city and county — but also by the type of cannabis business activity. Thus, cannabis dispensaries face different zoning laws and restrictions than cultivators or manufacturers do.

Additionally, there are limits on “Undue Concentration” which restricts the number of cannabis businesses that can be located within a single area.

Cannabis dispensaries must comply with all applicable state and local laws, in addition to the following zoning provisions:

  • Located within a fully enclosed building and must not be visible from the public right-of-way.
  • Cannot be located within 600 feet of a school.
  • Each property owner seeking a conditional use permit for a cannabis dispensary must provide a neighborhood responsibility plan that addresses the adverse impacts of a cannabis dispensary on the surrounding area.
  • May not be established in a planned unit development unless the schematic plan and design guidelines expressly authorize its use.

It is essential to conduct your own research on each city and county cannabis dispensary regulations, to ensure you are complying with all local zoning laws. We are here to help.

How Can Manzuri Law Help Me Obtain or Maintain a California Cannabis Dispensary License?

Our California cannabis dispensary attorneys at Manzuri law can assist with the licensing application process, no matter the complexity of the project.  Our attorneys have experience with all application types, including merit based competitive applications.

We also work with a number of consultants to help outline a complete business plan, including financial forecasts, start-up costs and timeline, and details of day-to-day operations, and compile relevant regulatory information for how you will keep the premises safe and secure.

As necessary, we can prepare arguments for how your Dispensary will benefit the local community and impact the neighborhood, while helping you obtain both a seller’s permit — which you must have in place before you can apply for other required state licenses — and a cannabis tax permit from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

We will also help you understand your legal rights and options to appear at hearings, when necessary, so you have an advocate by your side during each step of the process.

Contact one of our California cannabis law firm specialists today by phone at (310) 912-2960 or online to discuss your business goals, so we can help you understand and meet the criteria necessary to move forward successfully.

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Photo by Budding on Unsplash