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California’s Cannabis Control Maps Out the State’s Greener Pastures

Department launches online website to help consumers and businesses locate which cities and counties participate in the legal cannabis trade.




The California Department of Cannabis Control on Thursday introduced a online data tool to help consumers and businesses locate which cities and counties participate in the legal cannabis trade. PHOTO COURTESY DEPARTMENT OF CANNABIS CONTROL

More than five years have passed since Californians voted to legalize the right for adults to possess and grow cannabis for recreational use. But Proposition 64 also allowed California cities and counties to march to their own drummer and prohibit cannabis businesses in their municipalities. That has left the Golden State a messy patchwork for legal cannabis.

To set the record straight, the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) on Thursday rolled out a data visualization tool to help consumers find legal cannabis products and inform businesses about which cities and counties license the legal cannabis trade. The DCC’s database is the first in a series of projects it is developing to store, refine and analyze licensing and compliance data to share with the public. The data tool can be found on the DCC website here.

This graphic shows where cannabis licenses are allowed in California. PHOTO COURTESY CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CANNABIS CONTROL

The DCC obtained the data on the new webpage by reviewing individual ordinances and by contacting local jurisdictions directly. The DCC notes it cannot approve any license in violation of local ordinance or regulations. The agency found that just 44 percent of cities and counties allow the licensing of one type of cannabis business. Fifty-six percent prohibit all cannabis businesses.  And even higher percentage of cities and counties — 62 percent — prohibit the licensing of any form of cannabis retail.


The webpage, which includes a map, a searchable database and a downloadable spreed sheet of statewide statistics, underscores challenges to licensing access in California. In March, the department introduced Cannaconnect — a post-licensure resource hub. That program aims to connect license holders to the resources they need to thrive in the state’s complex cannabis market.


The drive to survive
The push to untangle California’s legal market is part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s effort to aid the state’s struggling cannabis market. Despite leading the nation in sales, California growers are hit with steep cultivation taxes and retailers are battling subsequent high prices and excise taxes — driving many consumers to the black market for cannabis.

Newsom recently announced his intention to eliminate the cultivation tax on growers, and funds to open up cannabis-hesitant municipalities. His revised 2022-2023 budget includes $20.5 million to foster the establishment of cannabis retail programs in the 62 percent of jurisdictions that currently allow none. The administration’s goal is to help businesses, battle illicit cannabis and support consumers in gaining access to regulated and safe products.

“This data helps Californians understand the work we have ahead of us in realizing the promises of cannabis legalization, including supporting access to a safe, legal, and equitable cannabis market across the state and combating the unregulated, illicit market,” said DCC Director Nicole Elliott.

To learn more about the California cannabis market, state licenses or laws, visit



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