Sonoma Moves Forward on Cannabis Ordinance

The good news continues and we’ll let the City of Sonoma’s posting fill you in:

City Council Gives Direction on Commercial Cannabis Ordinance

Posted on March 8, 2019

At their meeting of March 4, 2019, Sonoma City Council held a Cannabis Study Session to review, discuss, and provide direction on local regulation of Commercial Cannabis activities. You can read the staff report and watch a recording of the Commercial Cannabis Study Session on our CivicWeb portal (Study Session begins at 1:07:46).

Following a presentation by David McPherson with HdL Companies, the Council provided the following direction on five types of Commercial Cannabis activities: Retail Dispensaries; Cultivation; Manufacturer; Distributor; and Testing Labs. In addition, the Council provided direction on zoning and the number of permits available for each type of activity.


RETAIL DISPENSARIES: Two (2) Total: one (1) storefront, and one (1) non-storefront. Council directed to allow two cannabis dispensaries within the City. One to allow retail sales in a “storefront” facility which is open to the public during regular business hours and the second to be a “non-storefront” dispensary that would only allow sales to customers exclusively through delivery and not be open to the public/retail traffic.

CULTIVATION: None. No cultivation of commercial cannabis to be allowed in the city limits.

MANUFACTURER: One (1) Type N (for infusions) and/or Type P (for packaging and labeling only). One non-volatile manufacturing cannabis business that would be focused on food or topical health-related products.

TESTING: One (1). One testing cannabis facility.

DISTRIBUTION: For Transport Only. Distribution will only be allowed for transportation of a business’ own product, not for general distribution.


The City Council gave direction on areas to not allow commercial cannabis by establishing “buffer zones” and by directing appropriate zoning areas. The ordinance will include provisions for state-mandated buffers of 600 feet around public and private schools (K-12). Shopping centers and some smaller retail locations would be exempt from these 600 feet buffer zones. Other locally sensitive locations to be excluded include the Sonoma Valley Little League fields on First Street East and the Plaza. Specifically, the Council directed that no commercial cannabis would be allowed within the Plaza Retail Overlay District.

The Storefront will be able to locate in Commercial zones with a Use Permit issued by the Planning Commission. The Non-Storefront Dispensary, Manufacturer, and Testing Lab will be allowed in either the Commercial or Mixed-Use zone outside of buffer areas with a Use Permit approved by the Planning Commission.


April – June 2019, Regulatory Ordinance & Land Use Ordinance Development

June – July 2019, Design Application Process and Cost Recovery Fees

August – September 2019, Application Reviews, Backgrounds and Applicant Interviews

November 2019, Present Staff Report Recommendations to City Council

November – December 2019, Award Issuance of Regulatory Permit Pending CUP approval or Operational Agreement

Please note, until this regulatory ordinance for Commercial Cannabis is developed, all commercial cannabis activities are currently prohibited in the city of Sonoma, except for deliveries of medical cannabis from dispensaries located outside of city limits. See a list of licensed delivery companies and learn more about currently allowable activities on the City’s Cannabis Regulation page.

City of Sonoma


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