Cannabis (Marijuana) Regulations

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Commercial Cannabis

Status as of 11/12/19:  The City Council has adopted a Commercial Cannabis Ordinance that will go into effect December 12th of 2019. Currently the City is NOT YET ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR PERMITS and the City has adopted an urgency ordinance that prohibits Commercial Cannabis until the permanent ordinance goes into effect. Please check back here for further updates and sign up for notifications. You can read the staff report from the November 12th Council Meeting and view the adopted Licensing Ordinance and Zoning Ordinance.

Status as of 10/11/19: 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 09/23/19: 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 05/20/19: 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 05/07/19:
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 02/28/19:

* 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.

Personal Cultivation of Cannabis

Update as of 10/02/18:

 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 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.


With the passing of Proposition 64 legalizing the use of cannabis for both medicinal and non-medicinal use in California, the City has begun the process of determining what the future of cannabis will look like in Novato. Our goal is to collect information through workshops, surveys and public hearings that will help shape the policies and regulations related to cannabis.

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. Local ordinances can regulate outdoor cultivation, retailers, dispensaries, and delivery services for cannabis.

Community Outreach & Engagement

As part of our community outreach to develop our local ordinance(s), 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.

Background Information

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 prohibits 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 current moratorium is scheduled to expire November 15, 2018. Prior to the expiration of the moratorium, staff will collect input and feedback from the community through meetings, workshops and surveys for the creation of a permanent ordinance and regulations to be considered by the Novato City Council.

Contact Info

Laura McDowall
Management Analyst II

Vicki Parker
Community Development Director

Steve Marshal
Planning Manager



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