Personal Use & Cultivation of Cannabis

cannabis plants

Federal Law

Controlled Substances Act

The federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 801, et.) prohibits, except for certain research purposes, the possession, distribution, and manufacturing of cannabis, and there is no medical necessity exception to prosecution and conviction under the Controlled Substances Act.

California State Law

California statutes specify that, except as authorized by law, the possession, cultivation, possession for sale, transportation, administration, or furnishing of cannabis are state criminal violations.  State law further punishes one who maintains a place for the purpose of unlawfully selling, using or furnishing, or who knowingly makes available a place for storing, manufacturing, or distributing cannabis

Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Prop. 215)

On November 5, 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Health & Safety Code § 11362.5, “CUA”), an initiative that exempted certain patients and their primary caregivers from criminal liability under state law for the possession and cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes. One of the stated purposes of the CUA is to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes where that medical use has been recommended by a physician.

Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420)

On January 1, 2004, Senate Bill 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act (Health & Safety Code §§ 11362.7-11362.83, “MMP”), became law to clarify the scope of the CUA and to facilitate the prompt identification of qualified patients and their primary caregivers.

Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA)

On September 11, 2015, the State enacted the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (Business & Professions Code §§ 19300, et seq.; the “MMRSA”). SB 837 changed the names of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act to the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (the “MCRSA”) .The MCRSA creates a state licensing program for commercial medical cannabis activities. The MCRSA allows counties and cities to maintain local regulatory authority over medical cannabis. The state will not issue a state license without first receiving authorization by the applicable local jurisdiction.

Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) (Prop. 64)

On November 8, 2016, California voters approved Proposition 64, the California Cannabis Legalization Initiative, also known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult use of Marijuana Act (the “AUMA”) (Health & Safety Code § 13362, Business and Professions Code Division 10), an initiative that legalized recreational cannabis for persons aged 21 years or older under state law. The AUMA also establishes certain sales and cultivation taxes. The AUMA renamed the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, established under MCRSA, to the Bureau of Cannabis Control.

Link to Business and Professions Code Division 10

County Law

Someone can grow up to six plants (within a 100 square-feet area) inside a personal residence are allowed without a land use permit. If you are a primary caregiver for qualified patients, you can grow up to six plants (within a 100 square-feet area) inside a personal residence, without a land use permit. Caregivers, while exempt from obtaining a land use permit, are required to obtain a County business license from the Department of Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector.


Can I sell homegrown cannabis plants or products to others?

No. Proposition 64 does not allow the sale of homegrown cannabis, whether whole plant, clippings, clones, or any product derived from any part of the plant.

Can I smoke or consume cannabis in public places?

No. AUMA (Prop. 64) prohibits smoking or consumption of medical and recreational cannabis in public places or in places where smoking tobacco is prohibited, which includes but is not limited to hallways and lobbies of apartment buildings and hotels, on the street, in schools, amusement parks, public parks and places of business usually open to the general public. Additionally, consumption or smoking of cannabis is prohibited within 1,000 feet of a school or youth area while children present, except on private residential property provided smoking is not detectable by children.

Where can I buy cannabis in SLO County?

Currently, there are no permitted dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of the County.  The County’s existing Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance allows for dispensaries to be established and operate for medical cannabis sales only. A Minor Use Permit must be obtained prior to establishing or operating a dispensary. Dispensaries for recreational use are currently prohibited. Mobile delivery services operating within the County are subject to the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance and are required to obtain a Minor Use Permit. Mobile delivery services operating from another jurisdiction are allowed to deliver within the County.

In addition, a Business License may be required.

How much cannabis can I buy for recreation use?

When retail sales have been approved, under Proposition 64, adults 21 years and older can possess, transport, or purchase up to one (1) ounce of cannabis and up to eight (8) grams of cannabis concentrates. The state does not anticipate accepting applications for recreational licenses until January 2018.

Related Forms & Documents

Cannabis Land Use Ordinance

Subscribe to County News

Stay informed by signing up to receive news, announcements and updates on a variety of topics from your County government. Click the button below and provide us with your email address to subscribe. You may unsubscribe at any time. 

Sign Up