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Save Our Food

Ventura County is under attack from 2 invasive pests.


On November 3, 2020, Ventura County voters passed Measure O which, in general, allows for the commercial cultivation, nursery cultivation, processing, and distribution of cannabis in pre-existing greenhouses and other indoor structures on land zoned AE, M2, or M3 on premises that are 1,200 feet away from sensitive uses such as schools, day care centers, youth centers, parks, drug rehabilitation centers, or residential neighborhoods within the unincorporated area of the county in existence as of March 4, 2020. This document provides answers to frequently asked questions received since the passage of the measure. Updates will be provided as answers become available or additional questions from the public arise.

1,200-foot Distance Requirement from Sensitive Uses

Q1. Which residential zoning designations does the 1,200 foot setback apply to?

A1. A 1,200-foot setback is required from all “residential neighborhoods.” Measure O defines a residential neighborhood as “any of the urban residential zones enumerated in section 8104-3 [of the Ventura County Noncoastal Zoning Ordinance] as of March 4, 2020.”

The Urban Residential Zones enumerated in Ventura County Noncoastal Zoning Ordinance section 8104-3 are listed below:

  • Single-Family Residential (R1) Zone
  • Two-Family Residential (R2) Zone
  • Residential Planned Development (RPD) Zone
  • Residential High Density (RHD) Zone
  • Residential (RES) Zone
  • Residential Mixed Use (R/MU) Zone

All other zoning designations are not considered to be a “residential neighborhood” under Measure O.

Q2. How do you determine if a sensitive use is within 1,200 feet of the premises?

A2. A sensitive use – defined as a school, day care center, youth center, drug rehabilitation center, park or residential neighborhood, in existence on March 4, 2020 – shall not be located within a 1,200-foot radius of any structure where commercial cannabis activity occurs or will occur. This distance is the horizontal distance measured in a straight line from the premises where commercial cannabis activities occur or will occur (the “Premises”) to the property line of the parcel upon which the sensitive use is located. Any parcel within 1,200 feet of the Premises cannot contain a sensitive use as defined above. All applicants are required to submit a radius map as part of their zoning clearance application that accurately depicts the uses within 1,200 feet of the Premises.


Q3. What does “pre-existing” greenhouse or indoor facility mean as referenced in Measure O?

A3. “Pre-existing” means that a greenhouse or indoor facility was in existence and permitted for use as of March 4, 2020.

Q4. If an existing facility has an active CUP for agricultural production using greenhouses (over 20,000 square feet), will a modification be required to grow cannabis? If so, what level (Permit Adjustment, Minor Modification, etc.?)

A4. No. To engage in commercial cannabis activities under Measure O, the owner/operator must obtain a state cannabis license, as well as a ministerial Zone Clearance and Business License from the county. A conditional use permit amendment is neither required nor sufficient. That said, cannabis activities must be consistent with any existing conditional use permit.

Q5. Will greenhouses constructed under ministerial approval (i.e. a Zoning Clearance for <20,000 square feet) require any other Planning Division approvals to grow cannabis?

A5. Before any commercial cannabis activities can occur within a pre-existing greenhouse, the owner/operator must obtain a state cannabis license as well as a Zoning Clearance for commercial cannabis activities and cannabis Business License issued by the County of Ventura.

Q6. Will repairs/retrofitting of pre-existing greenhouses for cannabis trigger the need for permit approval (other than typical activities that would normally require a standard building permit such as electrical modifications, etc.)?

A6. Typically, repairs of pre-existing greenhouses would not require additional land use permits, although they would likely require building permits. Retrofitting pre-existing greenhouses may or may not require additional land use permitting, depending on the extent of the work. However, in most instances, retrofitting will require additional building permits.

Q7. Can an existing greenhouse on a parcel that doesn't meet the 1200' setback be relocated to another property that would meet the setback and the greenhouse be reconstructed?

A7. No.

Zone Clearance & Business License Information

Q8. What are the requirements for the Zoning Clearance application?

A8. Zoning Clearance applications are processed by the Planning Division. More information on requirements can be found here:


Zoning Clearance questions should be directed to cannabis.rma@ventura.org.

Q9. What are the requirements for the Business License application?

A9. Business License applications are processed by the County Executive Office. More information on business license requirements can be found here:


Business License questions should be directed to cannabis@ventura.org.

Q10. Can the Zoning Clearance and Business License applications be submitted concurrently?

A10. Yes, although it is important to note that a Zoning Clearance is needed to obtain a Business License. Changes to the Zoning Clearance application may require resubmittal of the Business License application with the updated zoning elements.

Q11. Do all employees need to take and pass a background check?

A11. According to Section 2706(a) of Measure O, all business owners, supervisors, employees, and any other person having at least a 20% financial interest (unless the interest is solely a security, lien or encumbrance) must go through a live scan background check that discloses no felonies in accordance with Business and Professions Code section 26057.

Q12. What type of identification is accepted for the background check?

A12. Currently the County accepts state issued drivers’ licenses and identification cards.

Q13. What types of activities are permitted under the licenses? Is retail allowed?

A13. A cannabis Business License issued under Measure O can allow for commercial cannabis cultivation, nursery cultivation, processing and distribution in the County unincorporated area. Processing and distribution are limited to supporting commercial cannabis grown by the licensee in the unincorporated Ventura County. Retail activities are not allowed.

Q14. Measure O says that one element in the application to the County is a copy of the state license. How is that possible given that the state will not issue a license unless the local jurisdiction provides authorization for the applicant?

A14. Measure O requires that a copy of the permit or the application for the State permit must be attached. It is anticipated that only the State application will be available for attachment to the County Business License application.

Q15. Can licensed facilities in Ventura County process/store cannabis from outside the County?

A15. No. Facilities authorized for commercial cannabis activities under Measure O are limited to processing and distributing cannabis grown by the licensee in the unincorporated Ventura County.

Q16. Does the County license allow for outdoor cannabis cultivation or nurseries?

A16. No. Cultivation and nursery activities must be conducted in pre-existing greenhouse or indoor facilities in existence and permitted for use as of March 4, 2020.

Q17. How long does it take for the County to process applications?

A17. The application process is contingent upon the complexity of each application.

Q18: Are Business Licenses transferable?

A18. No. (See Measure O, Section 2713.)

Q19: What is the County’s process to review applications?

A19: Applications are reviewed in the order they are received. The County has 60 days to determine if the application includes all of the information required in sections 2705 and 2706 and that the application fee has been paid to issue the cannabis Business License.

Q20: Does CEQA apply under the County licensing process?

A20: No, the County’s commercial cannabis program is ministerial.

Q21: How does the County interact with the State in terms of licensing?

A21: The California Department of Cannabis Control contacts the County to confirm local approval of state license applicants – this means the County must confirm issuance of both a cannabis Zoning Clearance and Business License.

Q22: Where can I find information online about the Zoning Clearance and Business License?

A22: Zone Clearance information can be found here:


Business License information can be found here:


Fees & Taxation

Q23. What are the application fees for each license type?

A23. The Zoning Clearance application fee – which application is processed by the Planning Division – is $2,175.

A Cannabis Business License fee, in the amount of $$14,700, is due at the time an application for a cannabis business license is submitted. Annual application renewals are $13,800.

Cannabis Business Licenses expire after one year. A fee will also be due at the time an application for a Cannabis Business License is renewed.

Payments for both the Zoning Clearance and the Cannabis Business License must be made by a certified check, cashier’s check or money order made payable to the County of Ventura.

Please note the County will not accept cash or credit cards.

Q24: What are the taxes related to licensed cannabis activities?

A24: A licensee must pay all applicable State taxes and the County tax which is a tax on the gross receipt on each of the licensee’s activities involving cannabis or cannabis products. Commercial cannabis cultivation is taxed at 4% of gross receipts and commercial cannabis nursery cultivation is taxed at 1% of gross receipts.

Q25: How can licensees pay taxes related to cannabis activities?

A25: The County is currently developing a process for licensees to pay taxes required by Measure O.

Other Questions

Q26. Will the County amend its Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance (NCZO) to include the language in Measure O. Will there be public hearings before adoption?

A26. No to both. Measure O was approved as an initiative measure passed by the voters of Ventura County. The provisions of Measure O amended the NCZO (and other portions of the County’s Ordinance Code) upon passage.

Q27: Are there specific areas of the County unincorporated area where cannabis cultivation is allowed?

A27. Yes, commercial cannabis cultivation is allowed only within three specific zones identified in unincorporated Ventura County. Those zones are AE (Agricultural Exclusive), M2 (Limited Industrial) and M3 (General Industrial). An interactive non-coastal zoning map can be found at https://gis.ventura.org/CountyView/. The commercial cultivation of cannabis is prohibited within the Coastal Zone as well as all Non-Coastal zones not otherwise specified above.

Q28: Is there a list of parcels that qualify under Measure O?

A28: No. All applicants will need to create and submit their own map illustrating that the parcel they wish to permit meets the requirements of Measure O. County staff will then review the submittal.

The County is in the process of developing an interactive map on ventura.org/cannabis to display permitted/licensed commercial cannabis premises in the unincorporated area.

Q29: When does the 60-day Business License application review timeline start?

A29: The 60-day Business License application review period will begin when the County Executive Office has received all required documents, information, and forms, including the land use Zoning Clearance and state cannabis license, needed to process the Business License application.

Q30: What are the State’s requirements for cannabis activity?

A30: Interested persons should contact the California Department of Cannabis Control for information relating to the State’s cannabis requirements.

Q31: What are the County regulations for storing and processing cannabis?

A31: A County cannabis Business License is required for commercial cannabis processing (which includes storing cannabis). A County cannabis Business License for commercial cannabis processing only allows the licensee to process/store cannabis grown by the licensee in unincorporated Ventura County.

Q32: What are the regulations for contract employees at licensed sites?

A32: For purposes of complying with Ventura County’s requirements, anyone working for a licensee must meet the terms set forth in Measure O. It is the responsibility of the licensee to ensure compliance.

Q33. Does the County regulate cannabis activities within cities?

A33. No. The County only regulates commercial cannabis activity within unincorporated Ventura County.

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