County of Marin - News Releases - Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

For Immediate Release
April 28, 2016

Supervisors to Review Medical Cannabis Rules, Fees

With program approval, first dispensaries could open in early 2017

San Rafael, CA – The details on how the County of Marin will review and select up to four medical cannabis dispensaries to operate under a new ordinance will be reviewed by the Marin County Board of Supervisors at 1:30 p.m. May 3.

Tablets of medical cannabis on a table with a small container of leaves and a stethoscopeLicenses for local medical cannabis dispensaries will take 4-8 months to obtain.
The proposed Medical Cannabis Dispensary Implementation Program includes an application guide, an application form and a proposed fee schedule. The approval process is expected to take four to eight months depending on factors such as the quality and comprehensiveness of the application and public input. The County’s Community Development Agency will seek Board approval of the program and adopt a fee schedule at the May 3 hearing.

Under the ordinance approved in December 2015, the County will allow no more than two dispensaries in the highly populated Highway 101 corridor in eastern Marin and no more than two in the more rural central and western parts of the county. There are 184 eligible sites in commercially zoned unincorporated areas – 50 in the urbanized corridor and 134 in the other areas. All eligible sites are pinpointed on maps provided by CDA. This week, CDA mailed approximately 4,000 public notices to parcel owners with property within 1,000 feet of an eligible dispensary site and published the notice in several local newspapers.

The proposed fee schedule is intended to ensure that the cost of creating and implementing the licensing program is covered by applicant fees. A fee of $6,000 is proposed for the County’s review of a license application.  Dispensaries that are awarded a license will be required to pay an annual monitoring deposit of $12,000. The fees are designed to cover the costs of additional staff or contractor assistance so there is no impact to the County’s General Fund.

The ordinance is consistent with the state’s Compassionate Use Act and Medical Cannabis Program. A licensed dispensary would have to be least 800 feet from schools, public parks, smoke shops, and other cannabis dispensaries to qualify for a permit.

Cannabis dispensaries previously had been prohibited in unincorporated Marin, and none are open or permitted in any of the county’s towns or cities. The ordinance establishes a regulatory framework to license nonprofit patient collectives to meet the medical needs of local patients, many of whom have voiced the need for local dispensaries before the Board of Supervisors.

Although cannabis is considered an illegal drug by the federal government, Proposition 215 ensures that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes upon receiving a recommendation from a physician. Patients and primary caregivers are exempt from criminal liability for possession and cultivation of cannabis. In 2003, the state Legislature adopted the Medical Marijuana Program to clarify the scope of lawful medical cannabis practices.

Sign up to receive emailed County updates on CDA’s Medical Cannabis Dispensary Ordinance webpage.


Tom Lai
Deputy Director
Community Development Agency

Marin County Civic Center
3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6292
CRS Dial 711

Email: Tom Lai
CDA website