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Cannabis (Marijuana) Regulations

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Proposition 64 legalized the use of cannabis for both medicinal and non-medicinal use in California.  As of January 1, 2018, all non-medicinal cannabis businesses must have a state license to operate, however a state license may not be issued to businesses which violate the provisions of any local ordinance or regulation. Cities may enact local laws or regulations pertaining to cannabis cultivation, dispensing, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and testing within its jurisdiction.

Commercial Cannabis

The City Council adopted Resolution 2019-069 on October 22, 2019 regarding the process for evaluating applications,  issuing commercial cannabis licenses and establishing certain operation parameters for commercial business activities.  The Council  formally adopted a commercial cannabis Licensing Ordinance and Zoning Ordinance on November 12, 2019.

The City is NOT YET ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR PERMITS/LICENSES.  The City is currently working on evaluation criteria for commercial cannabis business applications, which will go to the City Council for approval.  Please sign up to be notified of upcoming cannabis related items via the form on this page or at

Personal Cultivation of Cannabis

At its meeting of October 2, 2018, the Novato City Council adopted regulations for the personal cultivation of cannabis within city limits. 

The Council authorized indoor cultivation of up to six (6) plants per residential property, regardless of the number of occupants.  Indoor cultivation is allowed both within a residence and also within a “Fully Enclosed and Secure Accessory Structure,”   which is a detached accessory building that has a roof, a foundation, solid walls which are not transparent or breakable.  These might include an accessory art studio, office or pool cabana, but not a greenhouse.  
The Personal Cultivation Ordinance approved by the City Council contains several restrictions including:

• Plants cannot be visible from the street or adjoining properties at ground level
• The cultivation area may not be accessible by minors
• Any building modifications, including electrical or structural changes, must have approved building permits
• Grow lights cannot exceed 1,200 watts per fixture
• A ventilation and filtration system is required for odor control
• The use of generators is prohibited
• Renters must obtain written authorization from the property owner(s) to cultivate

 Note: The City Council did not authorize outdoor cultivation (either open air—such as a yard or garden, or within non-secure and enclosed accessory structures such as greenhouses or hoop structures) within City limits for personal use.


The passing of Proposition 64 legalized the use of both medicinal and non-medicinal cannabis consumption and sales for adult-use. In response to Prop. 64, the City of Novato adopted a moratorium (Ordinance No. 1629 & Ordinance No. 1633) that prohibited all outdoor and indoor cultivation of cannabis, excluding the exception under Prop. 64 that permits the cultivation of six (6) plants indoors for personal use (subject to the property owners permission). Additionally under these ordinances, the City provides an exception to the moratorium for CB Labs, Liposome Formulations, and deliveries of medicinal cannabis from out-of-city businesses.

The moratorium was scheduled to expire November 15, 2018. Prior to the expiration of the moratorium, City staff conducted a series of community workshops to provide an overview of the cannabis industry, discuss current laws and regulations, explain the roles of code enforcement and law enforcement, respond to community questions and feedback, and get community feedback to identify key issues and concerns. See the Community Meetings & Workshops section on this page for meeting topics, dates, times, locations, and recordings.


Status as of November 12, 2019: The City Council adopted  the Licensing Ordinance and Zoning Ordinance, which will go into effect on December 12, 2019.

Status as of October 22, 2019: The City Council discussed final policy decisions and introduced commercial cannabis ordinances at their meeting of October 22, 2019.  They adopted Resolution 2019-069  regarding the process for evaluating applications,  issuing commercial cannabis licenses and establishing certain operation parameters for commercial business activities.    The October 22, 2019 staff report , video and meeting minutes are available online.  The ordinances will be formally adopted on November 12, 2019.

Status as of October 11, 2019: The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at 6:00pm in the Novato City Hall Council Chambers, to consider adopting an ordinance to amend Novato Municipal Code Chapters 8 and 19 to establish regulations for licensing and permitting of commercial cannabis activities in the City. 

Status as of September 23, 2019: The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on September 23, 2019, to consider providing a recommendation to the City Council regarding the proposed commercial cannabis licensing and permitting ordinance and CEQA exemptions. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the City Council: a) find the proposed cannabis ordinance to be exempt from CEQA; and b) adopt the requested cannabis ordinance with modifications.

Status as of May 20, 2019: At their May 14, 2019 meeting, the City Council held a Cannabis Community Workshop to receive public comment and discuss the option to tax cannabis businesses. Council provided feedback to staff.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 6pm
Community Workshop
At the workshop, the Novato City Council will review, discuss, and receive community feedback on a draft cannabis tax proposal to potentially be placed on the November 2019 ballot. The purpose of this workshop is solely to discuss the Option to Tax Cannabis businesses.  Zoning, Business Types, Permitting, Application Process, and other Regulatory Ordinance topics will not be discussed. These topics will be discussed in future meetings. 

Status as of May 7, 2019: 
On Monday, May 6, 2019 at 7pm, the Planning Commission held a Commercial Cannabis Land Use and Taxing Community Workshop 
to review draft proposals to regulate and tax commercial cannabis facilities in the city.

At the workshop, staff presented details of a draft ordinance which will regulate the size, number and locations of commercial cannabis activities. Additionally, details of a proposed cannabis business tax to potentially be placed on the November 2019 ballot were discussed.

Update as of February 28, 2019:

* The City is currently not taking applications for Cannabis related businesses with the following exception:  

If you have a Medicinal-only delivery service based outside the City of Novato licensed by the State of California on or before November 17, 2017 you may apply for a standard business license. The standard business license will be subject to the final Commercial Cannabis ordinance requirements and fees upon adoption. 

The Novato City Council has elected to extend the commercial moratorium for all commercial cannabis related activities for a period of one (1) year ending November 14, 2019. Staff is developing an ordinance and will be bringing the ordinance before the Planning Commission and Council at dates soon to be announced.


Contact Info

Laura McDowall
Management Analyst II

Vicki Parker
Community Development Director

Steve Marshall
Planning Manager


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