As for growing medical marijuana, it’s permitted in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, according to Armentano.
Editor’s note: We don’t condone growing marijuana indoors or outdoors in places where it’s illegal. Our ranking is meant to be a conversation starter rather than a blueprint for where to grow marijuana.
If you’re cultivating marijuana outdoors, you probably don’t want your neighbors — or anyone else — to know about it. For this factor, a lower number is better.
Average annual high temperature.
Passage of the Sacramento ordinance in February made the city the largest city in California to embrace large-scale cultivation of medical marijuana, according to local TV station KCRA.
Average annual sunshine: 64% Average annual precipitation: 53.7 inches Average annual high temperature: 73 degrees Population density per square mile: 2,132 Medical marijuana legal: No Recreational marijuana legal: No Number of people in state per 1,000 seized marijuana plants grown outdoors: 6.8.
“It’s phenomenal that a conservative town like Sacramento chose to recognize this industry instead of pretending that it’s not there like a lot of other local governments do,” Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association , told KCRA.
Average annual sunshine: 56% Average annual precipitation: 45.9 inches Average annual high temperature: 61 degrees Population density per square mile: 1,792 Medical marijuana legal: Yes Recreational marijuana legal: No Number of people in state per 1,000 seized marijuana plants grown outdoors: 9,160.
To compile our ranking of the 12 Best Cities for Growing Marijuana Outdoors, we examined seven factors.
If a metro area is in a state where medical marijuana is legal, it got a 5 percent bump. If it’s in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, it got another 5 percent bump. A state’s stance on marijuana legalization is one barometer of its attitude toward growing pot outdoors.
Population density (number of residents per square mile)
However, the marijuana-growing landscape likely has shifted since then, as four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — along with the District of Columbia have legalized both recreational and medical marijuana in recent years. This November, voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will vote on legalizing recreational marijuana, CNN says.
Once we weighed the seven factors for the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S., Sacramento, CA, claimed the top pot spot. However, this doesn’t mean you immediately should begin cultivating pot plants if you’re in the Sacramento area.
The marijuana business in the U.S. is growing like a weed.
Average annual sunshine: 62% Average annual precipitation: 42 inches Average annual high temperature: 71 degrees Population density per square mile: 1,685 Medical marijuana legal: No Recreational marijuana legal: No Number of people in state per 1,000 seized marijuana plants grown outdoors: 4,087.4.
Top Pot Spots.
Most plants, including marijuana, don’t grow well without sunlight.
You don’t want the temperature to be too hot or too cold. Like Goldilocks, you want it to be just right. For optimal growing purposes, we settled on 72 degrees, so the closer a city came to that mark, the higher its score was in that category.
Given the rising national interest in pot and our obsession here at LawnStarter with plants of all kinds — including the weeds that invade our lawns — we thought it would be cool to pinpoint where the best places are to grow weed (the kind you smoke) outdoors.
In Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and the District of Columbia, adults can grow marijuana for recreational use, says Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML , a group that favors pro-marijuana laws. In these four places, laws don’t make a distinction between indoor and outdoor marijuana growth, he says.
Average annual sunshine: 56% Average annual precipitation: 44.9 inches Average annual high temperature: 68 degrees Population density per square mile: 2,040 Medical marijuana legal: No Recreational marijuana legal: No Number of people in state per 1,000 seized marijuana plants grown outdoors: 7.8.
These are some of the findings in a first-of-its-kind investigation, tracking and compiling the cannabis ordinances in all 540 city and county jurisdictions in California, a study conducted by Southern California News Group and other Digital First newspapers.
To get a zero score, a city has to ban all marijuana businesses, block residents from growing marijuana for personal use outdoors and require them to get a permit to grow it inside their homes.
Imperial County again stands out. Only 45 percent of unincorporated county residents there voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. But the Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted in November to welcome every type of cannabis business, giving the area a score of 95.9 on our scale of permissiveness.
California hasn’t gone green.
There are also state-licensed marijuana stores that claim addresses in Carmel and Monterey, even though both of those cities block all marijuana businesses.
Riverside County has by far the highest number of permissive cities, with six that score above 96 points on our scale. A few other counties have two 96-point cities each, including Los Angeles and Sonoma.
The gap is most pronounced when it comes to shops and cultivation. More than 15 percent of California counties allow recreational stores in unincorporated areas, for example, compared with 12 percent of cities. And 27 percent of counties allow medical marijuana cultivation, compared with just 20 percent of cities.
Four counties are also racking up points when it comes to their lenient policies for unincorporated areas: Humboldt, Inyo, Del Norte and Monterey.
In some cities and counties, cannabis industry rules contrast sharply with how residents there voted on Prop. 64.
We’ll continue exploring and expanding the data so, down the road, we can offer more insights about the multi-billion-dollar world of legal cannabis in California.
Least cannabis-friendly cities in California.
In some places, county policies contrast sharply with some of the rules passed by cities within that county.
(Note: We don’t mean to imply that “high” scores are better or worse than “low” scores. If you support cannabis rights, you’ll likely see a high score as a good thing. If you oppose them, you’ll likely see a low score as preferable. Our scoring system is simply a mathematical way to compare city and county policies.)
Imperial County, for example, permits all types of marijuana businesses in its unincorporated areas, mostly near the Arizona and Mexico borders. Yet most cities in Imperial County (the three biggest are El Centro, Calexico and Brawley) have banned the industry, and none allow recreational shops.
Last year, to help everyone from pot consumers and would-be pot entrepreneurs to people who simply are curious about the progress of a new state law, we began gathering details on local marijuana policies. In January, we launched a database with some of that information, offering cannabis rules from about half the cities in the state. Today, we’ve upgraded that work, with rules from every city and county in California.
County policies sometimes conflict with cities.
The information opens a window into how the industry is taking shape three months after California began licensing marijuana businesses and permitting the sale of recreational marijuana.
The opposite can be seen in the bottom right corner of the chart, which shows cities and counties where local leaders are sticking with strict cannabis policies even though more than two thirds of the voters in their communities were in favor of Prop. 64.
To get above 96 points, cities and counties must allow every type of marijuana business licensed by the state. That means permitting medical and recreational licenses for cannabis sales, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and testing. They would also have to allow their residents to grow marijuana at home, both indoors and outdoors.
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Fewer than one in three California cities (144 out of 482) allow any kind of cannabis business to operate in their borders. And just 18 of the state’s 58 counties permit cannabis businesses in their unincorporated areas.
You can legally purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries in the city of Sacramento. Cities and counties decide whether to license businesses in their area, so other cities may not have storefront dispensaries.
What does this mean for individuals who want to enjoy their new recreational options? Right now it is legal for adults (over 21) to:
Now that recreational marijuana is legal in California, what are the rules for growing and using it? The answers are changing, and they depend on where you live or partake.
Local rules on cultivation for personal use.
State regulations for both medicinal and recreational purposes are now finalized, and production and distribution licenses are being issued. You can check licenses at the Bureau of Cannabis Control website. Local cities and counties continue to regulate medicinal and recreational marijuana growth and distribution as well.
Most Sacramento-area cities, as well as the county, prohibit dispensaries and all commercial marijuana activity.
The Cannifornian website has a great tool for quick reference to the ordinances in all California cities: Local Cannabis Laws Database. County information can be found at the California State Association of Counties and the CanniBusinessLaw website.
City of Sacramento No more than 6 marijuana plants, regardless of number of occupants; must be in a single, locked room or structure (Sacramento City Code § 8.132.040) Sacramento County No more than 6 marijuana plants, regardless of number of occupants; must be in a single, locked room or structure (Sacramento County Code § 6.88.050) Citrus Heights Medicinal: limited to 50 square feet and 300 cubic feet inside a residence, 100 square feet and 600 cubic feet in a secure structure on residential property (Citrus Heights Code of Ordinances § 50-702) Recreational: up to 6 marijuana plants (Citrus Heights Code of Ordinances § 50-802) Elk Grove No more than 6 marijuana plants (Elk Grove Municipal Code § 23.83) Folsom No more than 6 marijuana plants, limited to 50 square feet and 10 feet in height (Folsom Municipal Code § 17.114.040) Permit required (Folsom Municipal Code § 17.114.050) Galt No more than 6 marijuana plants (Galt Municipal Code § 18.58.030) Rancho Cordova No more than 6 marijuana plants; city imposes registration requirement and tax (Rancho Cordova Municipal Code §§ 6.90.030, 3.85)
Marijuana use, possession, and distribution is still illegal under federal law. 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. This complicates many aspects of the business, including leasing property, banking and complying with tax law, in addition to the potential for prosecution.
Unlicensed adults can give cannabis products as a gift, but unlicensed marijuana sale is still illegal even between individuals.
All cities in Sacramento County, as well as unincorporated areas, ban outdoor growing of marijuana. Growing indoors for personal use is restricted to personal residences, with different limits and regulations in different areas. Here’s a quick summary of the quantities permitted in different cities as of May 2021:
Personal use and cultivation.
Landlords can prohibit smoking and cultivation in rented residences. If you live in federally subsidized housing it is grounds for eviction for illegal activity, since it’s still illegal under Federal law. For lots more on landlord-tenant issues, see Cannifornian’s “Ask An Attorney: Can my landlord forbidden me from growing marijuana at home?”
CaNORML’s Summary of MAUCRSA provides information about this law, and their Advice for Cannabis Businesses and Cultivators has additional details of its requirements.
Prop 64 requires regulation of the recreational marijuana business. The “Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act” (“MAUCRSA”), and several California agencies have a role in regulating the business. All stages of commercial growth, production and distribution require licenses. Local cities and counties also have a role in local rules and regulations. MAUCRSA applies to both recreational and medicinal use and production.
You can grow your own, up to six plants under state law. Cities and counties may imposes specific requirements on growing plants such as ventilation, limits on wattage used, and the like. Landlords may prohibit cultivation in your lease, as noted above. Some cities, including Galt, Rancho Cordova, and Citrus Heights, require express written permission from the landlord.
Buying, using, and distributing medicinal marijuana has been legal in California since 1996 (see our article “Medicinal Marijuana Laws” for more). In 2016, California passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) legalizing the use and cultivation of marijuana for adults over 21.
Producing and selling marijuana.
The City of Sacramento currently allows dispensaries, cultivation, nonvolatile manufacturing and testing in specific zones within the city, and city-issued permits are now available. More information is available on the website of the Department of Finance’s Office of Cannabis Policy & Enforcement (http://www.cityofsacramento.org/Finance/Revenue/Sacramento-Marijuana-Information/Business-Information).
You can also order delivery service. Technically, local governments may forbid delivery in their jurisdiction, although that is under dispute and you may find services willing to deliver in your area even if it’s nominally banned.
Federal decriminalization is a priority of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. (“Schumer: Senate will act on marijuana legalization with or without Biden,” April 3, 2021, by Natalie Fertig, Politico.com.) The House of Representatives in April passed the “Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021,” which, if it passes the Senate, will protect banks from liability for handling money from the marijuana trade. (“Cannabis Banking: The Safe Banking Act 2.0 Passes the House of Representatives,” April 20, 2021, National Law Review.)
In February 2021, Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland (now confirmed) stated that he would reinstitute a version of the Obama era “Cole Memorandum,” affirming that his Justice Department would not pursue cases against Americans in states which legalize and regulate marijuana. (“Attorney general nominee Garland signals friendlier marijuana stance,” Feb. 22, 2021 MJBizDaily.com).
These rules are still changing. To check on the most current ordinances, visit the website or contact the city clerk of your municipality.
Smoking or ingesting marijuana is prohibited in public places; smoking is prohibited anywhere smoking tobacco is illegal, and near schools, day care center, and youth centers when children are present.