Santa Barbara Cannabis Laws

Cannabis is Legal In Santa Barbara

Let’s cut to the chase-cannabis is legal in Santa Barbara, California. By whatever name you call it—pot, marijuana, mota, weed, flower, pakalolo, etc.—it is now legal to consume cannabis for adults 21 and over without a medical marijuana card. If you are curious about the ins and outs of the local laws in Santa Barbara regarding cannabis, keep reading!



Making Sense of Cannabis Laws in Santa Barbara

The cannabis laws of the City of Santa Barbara have evolved since “The Adult Use of of Marijuana Act” (Proposition 64) went into effect on January 1, 2018. This page is intended to give you a general idea about the current cannabis laws and is not intended as legal advice. Please see the Santa Barbara City website for the most up-to-date information.


The Santa Barbara City Ordinances Related to Cannabis

Here are resources specific to Santa Barbara Cannabis Laws:

On December 5, 2017 the Santa Barbara City Council adopted an ordinance to amend the city’s municipal code, adding Chapter 9.44 “Commercial Cannabis Businesses”. This allows the city of Santa Barbara to regulate all commercial cannabis businesses within city limits, including cultivation, manufacturing facilities, distribution, and testing facilities, as well as both delivery-only and storefront retailers.


It wasn’t until late January of 2018 that the city council established the application process to get a cannabis business license. Throughout spring and summer of 2018, the city conducted a competitive permitting process to award licenses to cannabis business within Santa Barbara. The city implemented a rule to only allow a maximum of 3 storefront retailers to be allowed inside city limits at any given time.


Santa Barbara Cannabis Laws InforgraphicRecreational Cannabis

The City of Santa Barbara has awarded recreational cannabis permits to 3 operators, but none of those stores are projected to open until early 2019. In the meantime, the closest brick and mortar place to purchase marijuana without a medical marijuana card is at the three dispensaries in Ojai:

They are recreational for everyone 21 and up.

Santa Barbara is comparatively fairly strict on licensed cannabis businesses, which is why it has taken so long for 3 retail stores to get off the ground. These stores will also face tough operational requirements once they’re up and running. For example, retailers can only have the quantity of cannabis and products that they anticipate will meet the daily demand of customers readily available for sale on-site in their retail sales areas. Furthermore, all bathrooms have to remain locked at all times. Most areas’ retail marijuana regulatory schemes don’t have provisions that are this strict.

Medicinal Marijuana

Santa Barbara has two medical marijuana store fronts, The Canopy on Milpas Street and The Santa Barbara Collective on De La Vina Street. Both have to operate under rules unique to the city of Santa Barbara; first-time patients must present proof of ID and a official doctor’s recommendation letter at least 24 hours before they wish to make their first purchase.

First-time patients in Santa Barbara must register 24 hours in advance of making a purchase at either of our two medicinal dispensaries.

Even though recreational marijuana is technically legal in Santa Barbara (and all of California) you need a medical marijuana card to purchase at either of our two local dispensaries. And there are other benefits to having a card, too, such as paying less in taxes for cannabis purchases, and higher possession and growing limits.

Delivery Services

There are many delivery services in Santa Barbara, but with the passage of Proposition 64 statewide, it’s unclear what the future holds for them.

Most cannabis delivery companies are currently unlicensed; there are only 51 licenses issued at the state level. In the Bay Area alone, there are over 60 unlicensed delivery companies currently operating.

One of the reasons so many delivery services are unlicensed is that there are substantial barriers to entry.

If you want to open a delivery business, you still have to have a brick-and-mortar storefront operating as your licensed premises. You also have to have a GPS tracking device installed in every delivery vehicle and can only deliver during daylight hours. Most cumbersome of all is that you must secure a local retail license in every locality you will be delivering in.

Cannabis Cultivation for Personal Use

California state law allows adults over 21 years old to have up to 6 mature plants meant for personal use, however, Santa Barbara’s city-level Ordinance 5816 places a few more restrictions on that.

For instance, if you’re growing  indoors or inside of an accessory structure to your private residence, it must be in an area that is enclosed and secured (aka a locked greenhouse). Your personal cultivation space  must be located in a locked place that is not visible from outside your property, and it must not be accessible to anyone under 21 years old.

Perhaps more reasonable regulations include that fact that your personal cultivation site may not produce nuisance odors and cannot be located in your home if you’re running a daycare out of it.

If you wish to grow outdoors however, the restrictions get even tougher. You can only grow outside if you live in a single-unit residential house that is your private residence (and you’re over 21 of course). Your cultivation must be in an enclosed and secure outdoor area that cannot be located in your front yard or within 10 feet of the interior lot lines. And, last but not least, you can only grow ONE plant outside at a time (the other 5 can be grown indoors but not in an accessory structure.)


Personal Possession Limits

California state law limits personal possession of cannabis for adults over the age of 21 to one ounce of flower or eight grams of cannabis concentrate products such as edibles, wax, and tinctures (each cannabis product that’s not flower counts as an eighth toward your limit). You can purchase this amount per day, so be careful not to have more on you than your daily limit at any given time.

Public consumption is still outlawed too even with statewide legalization, so be careful not to consume cannabis or products in public view. This includes public beaches, so as tempting as it may be, consuming cannabis at the beach in Santa Barbara is not legal.

For Further Reading

To read more about the cannabis laws in the City of Santa Barbara, check out these resources:

Other interesting reading:

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