Explainers

What is my local marijuana law in California?

July 3, 2017
Noah Berger
Pot grower Steve Evans carries marijuana plants into a greenhouse at his Santa Rosa, Calif., home on Monday, May 22, 2017.
SOURCE: Noah Berger

California marijuana law has gotten more complicated than ever.

On one hand, legalization initiative Proposition 64 allows all adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of cannabis buds, seven grams of extract, and grow six plants in their homes.

But what about access to medical marijuana dispensaries? What about growing some plants in your outdoor garden? And when can we go into legal pot shops?

The answers to these questions vary city by city, and county by county -- and there are 114 such cities and counties in the Bay Area alone. A sprawling patchwork of sometimes conflicting pot laws now blankets the Bay Area and the rest of California, making it near-impossible for average citizens to keep up on exactly what's legal in their city limits or unincorporated county land.

A review by GreenState writer Spencer Silva for the San Francisco Chronicle print edition Tuesday shows that of the 114 Bay Area cities and counties:

  • just 15 have operating medical cannabis stores called dispensaries.
  • No city or county has handed out a local license to run a recreational pot shop.
  • And 43 cities or counties have banned the growing of a single recreational cannabis plant in your own back yard.

We've collected the laws for all 114 cities and counties in the Bay Area, and now, you can look up the law in your town, using the tool below. Just click the drop-down menu of cities and counties to see what's allowed where you are.

Just keep in mind, local cannabis law is rapidly evolving, most noticeably as new cities and counties pass bans on outdoor gardens. So check back often, and let us know if you see something that's gone out of date.

Legal Disclaimer

Our tool is not intended to be definitive legal advice. Double-check local ordinances before you start a garden – you may have to rip to move the garden indoors if your city passes an outdoor garden ban, and many will in the coming months. As our full story in the San Francisco Chronicle details, local officials need to hear from citizens concerning their rights.

Walnut Creek City Council member Cindy Silva during the public comment and official discussion of locally implementing Prop 64 - marijuana legalization Tuesday 16  May 2017 at Walnut Creek City Hall in Walnut Creek, CA. (Peter DaSilva Special to the Chronicle)
Peter DaSilva | Special to the Chronicle
Cindy Silva, City Council member for Walnut Creek -- where citizens voted 60.8 percent in favor of cannabis legalization, but no dispensaries are open, and personal pot gardens are banned.

What’s next?

In the coming weeks and months, GreenState intends to crowdsource the data for all 58 counties and 482 cities or towns, fact-check the data, and expand look-up tool to provide statewide information. For now -- you can comment with suggested changes to the data and we'll review them. Check back on GreenState.com for ways you can help.