Know Before You Grow

The County Board of Supervisors has established permanent regulations for cannabis activities in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County. While some cannabis-related business activities will be allowed, they will be limited. Read the full ordinances.

NOTE: Land use permit applications will not be accepted until the ordinances become effective. The inland ordinance will become effective on December 31, 2017. The coastal zone ordinance will become effective if it is certified by the California Coastal Commission. Staff is unable to anticipate an effective date for the coastal zone ordinance.

Commercial Cannabis Cultivation

Who can grow cannabis commercially in SLO County? Currently, only those applicants who have an
approved co-op/collective registration under Urgency Ordinance 3334 may apply for a land use permit for commercial cannabis cultivation. During the Board of Supervisors hearings on the cannabis, the Board indicated that they may consider allowing additional applications in 2018/19.

Where can I grow cannabis? The following land use categories (zones) allow for cannabis cultivation:

  • Agriculture – a 10 acre minimum site is required
  • Rural Lands – a 50 acre minimum site is required
  • Residential Rural – a 20 acre minimum site is required; outdoor cultivation is prohibited
  • Industrial – no minimum site area is required; outdoor cultivation is prohibited

Where can I NOT grow cannabis? Commercial cultivation is prohibited in all land use categories that are not listed above. Additionally, certain areas may have Planning Area Standards that do not allow cannabis cultivation, even if the property is zoned properly.

How far does my cultivation have to be from the property line?

  • Indoor cultivation setbacks (the distance between which a building or structure and a property line) are based on the structure you are growing in and what land use category you are located in. Typically, greenhouses and other Agricultural structures in rural areas must be setback 30-100 feet from property lines. Industrial areas typically have a 0-foot setback requirement. The environmental review process (CEQA) may require additional setbacks.
  • Outdoor cultivation must be 300 feet from the property lines and 50 feet from any riparian vegetation or a watercourse.
  • Setbacks may be modified through the use permit process for unique site circumstances.
  • All cultivation must be located 100 feet from other residences and outdoor living areas (patios, pools, etc.) and 1,000 feet from schools, parks, etc.

How much cannabis can I grow?
Outdoor cultivation: 

  • On sites 10-25 acres in size: 2 operations per site.
  • On sites greater than 25 acres in size: 3 operations per site.

Indoor cultivation: A maximum of 22,000 square-feet per site (may be made up of multiple operations).
* An operation is limited in size to a single State cultivation license.

What permit do I need? Most cannabis cultivation requires a minor use permit, which is a discretionary land-use permit approved by the County Planning and Building Department. Anyone proposing multiple cannabis activities per site (e.g. cultivation and manufacturing) must get a conditional use permit, which is a development plan and discretionary land-use permit approved by the Planning Commission. A conditional use permit is also required for sites that have had previous cannabis-related violations within the last two years. Read and print this Land Use Permit Process User Guide

What do I need to submit with my application? Please see our Cannabis Activities Land Use Permit Application Checklist for more information

How long do the cannabis cultivation permits last? Land use permits for cannabis cultivation are valid for five years, with the opportunity to request renewal before the permit expires.

Can I grow hemp? Do I need a permit? Hemp is not considered a Cannabis Activity for the purposes of the County’s land use regulations. Hemp is considered Crop Production and Grazing and may be grown anywhere Crop Production and Grazing is an allowed land use.

Commercial Cannabis Nurseries

What’s the difference between cultivation and nurseries? Cannabis nurseries are limited to the production of clones, immature plants, seeds, or other agricultural products used specifically for the planting, propagation, and cultivation of cannabis. Cannabis nurseries cannot grow mature plants, with the exception of certain research exemptions.

Where can I have a cannabis nursery? Cannabis nurseries are allowed in the following land use categories (zones):
o Agriculture – no minimum site area is required
o Rural Lands – no minimum site area is required
o Residential Rural – a 5-acre minimum site is required; outdoor nurseries are prohibited
o Industrial – no minimum site area is required; outdoor nurseries are prohibited

What permit do I need? A Minor Use Permit is required for most cannabis nurseries. A Condition Use Permit is required for nurseries ≥ 75,000 square-feet. A Conditional Use Permit is required for applicants proposing multiple cannabis activities per site (e.g. nursery and dispensary). A Conditional Use Permit is also required for sites that have had previous cannabis-related violations within the last two years.

What do I need to submit with my application? Please see our Cannabis Activities Land Use Permit Application Checklist for more information

Related Services

County Business Licenses
Land Use Permits
Business License Review