City of San Carlos - Cannabis



Overview and Contact Information

Background: The Status of Medical/Recreational Cannabis
Tentative Timeline
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
State Laws Regarding Cannabis

Overview and Contact Information
The City of San Carlos is currently taking steps to implement local cannabis health and safety regulations to protect citizens and conform with new State regulations. The City will continue to update this webpage as new regulations are being considered, and the City encourages the public to participate by attending public meetings and asking questions and sharing opinions with City staff.

Please contact Nell Selander with any questions or concerns, or for more information:

Martin Romo
Economic Development Coordinator
(650) 802-4267

Background: The Status of Medical/Recreational Cannabis
On June 27, 2016, the State enacted the Medical Cannabis Regulatory Safety Act (MCRSA) to protect Californians’ use of medical cannabis and to establish regulations for personal and commercial medical cannabis activity.

On November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) to regulate personal and commercial non-medical (or recreational) marijuana activity. Proposition 64 passed by a statewide margin of 57%, with 63% support in San Mateo County, and 65% support in San Carlos.

Most recently, the State legislature passed SB 94, which unifies regulations for both medical and non-medical commercial cannabis activities and the personal use of cannabis. The full text of SB 94 is available at:

In anticipation of January 1, 2018, when the State may begin issuing commercial licenses for medical and non-medical cannabis, most California cities and counties are working to implement local cannabis regulations to retain local control.

The City of San Carlos has taken several steps to address the complex implementation process for limited and well-regulated cannabis commercial activities locally.

• Three City Council study sessions were held regarding commercial cannabis:
    1.  March 13, 2017
    2. April 10, 2017
    3. June 12, 2017
Video recordings of all of all three study sessions are available at:

• At the direction of City Council, an online survey was conducted on Shape San Carlos for ten days in April 2017 to collect public input on permitting retail cannabis businesses in San Carlos. The results are available here [link to pdf].

• The City has engaged a team of local cannabis policy experts to assist with the process.

• The City continues to update its website to provide additional information and receive feedback. A list of Frequently Asked Questions about the process, as well as a tentative schedule of the process that has been developed by the City and is available below.

Tentative Timeline

• August 21, 2017: Planning Commission Study Session
• October 2, 2017: Planning Commission Public Hearing
• October 16, 2017: If needed, continuation of Public Hearing
• October 23, 2017: City Council Meeting Public Hearing
   o First reading of the ordinance
• November 13, 2017: City Council Meeting
   o Second reading of the ordinance
• New regulations effective December 2017
• Future consideration of local tax measure on cannabis

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. Why is the City of San Carlos considering cannabis-related local health and safety policy now?
In 2016, the State Legislature passed the Medical Cannabis Regulatory Safety Act (MCRSA) and on November 8, 2016, California Voters passed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). As a result of the passage of these laws, the City must take steps to incorporate the medical and non-medical regulations for cannabis activities as described under each of the acts into local law.

2. What does Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) allow?
     • Adults 21 and older may possess, transport and use up to an ounce of dried marijuana flowers and 8 grams of cannabis concentrates. This includes out of state visitors. 
     • Adults 21 and older can grow up to six (6) marijuana plants at their home. Local jurisdictions can restrict outdoor cultivation, but cannot prohibit indoor cultivation of these six plants.
     • A State excise tax and cultivation tax are levied on commercial cannabis activities. Some of the tax revenue will be used for research, law enforcement, education and local grants. Local jurisdictions may impose additional taxes on commercial cannabis activities. Local grants will not be available to jurisdictions that ban commercial cannabis activities.

     • Click here for the full text of Proposition 64:

3. Is there a difference between “cannabis” and “marijuana”?
No, they are the same. The origin of the term “marijuana” is unknown, whereas “cannabis” is the more technical Latin name for the same plant. Due to connotation sometimes associated with the term “marijuana,” the State legislature now prefers to use the term “cannabis” in its regulations.

4. What cannabis related activities will be allowed in San Carlos?
Commercial cannabis businesses that will be licensed by the State include manufacturing, cultivation, distribution, retail sales and testing of the plants and related marijuana products. The San Carlos City Council has directed staff to develop regulations to permit manufacturing, distribution, and testing in Zoning Districts were similar uses are already permitted. These draft regulations will be presented to the Planning Commission for review and recommendation to the City Council prior to their consideration of adopting the regulations. At this time, retail sales are not being considered in San Carlos.

5. Where will permitted commercial cannabis businesses be allowed in San Carlos?
The City is considering cannabis-related activities located in zones appropriate for the described use and only for manufacturing, distribution and testing at this time. For example, a cannabis manufacturer may be permitted in a Zoning District that currently permits manufacturing uses. Local ordinances will clearly define zones that are allowable for commercial cannabis activity land use.

6. What are the City’s guidelines for permitting cannabis-related businesses?
The City’s goals for cannabis-related businesses are:
• Establish reasonable and comprehensive regulations that preserve the health and safety of the community.
• Ensure compliance with cannabis-related State regulations.
• Reduce and eliminate nuisance, crime and “black market” cannabis sales.

7. When will the regulations be considered for adoption?
Please refer to the timeline at for a complete list of upcoming dates. The City’s goal is for all cannabis-related regulations to be in effect on December 27, 2017, prior to January 1, 2018 when the State may begin issuing licenses to cannabis businesses.

8. How can I stay informed about the process?
Sign up for the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” list serve on eNotify by visiting Updates on the process of developing local regulations will be sent to this list serve.

9. How can I provide my input to the City?
The City encourages community input and participation to navigate the complex and dynamic implementation process for cannabis regulations. We welcome your participation in public meetings. If you are unable to attend meetings and would like to share your thoughts, please call or email Nell Selander, Economic Development & Housing Manager at (650) 802-4257 or

State Laws Regarding Cannabis

Proposed State Regulations for Cannabis Retail Sales, Distribution, and Transportation:

Proposed State Regulations for Cannabis Cultivation:

Proposed State Regulations for Cannabis Testing:

Proposed State Regulations for Cannabis Manufacturing: