Socially Equitable Cannabis Program


Cannabis Updates | June 2024

The Socially Equitable Cannabis Program continues to make progress! With the approval of key components at the Board of Supervisors on May 1, 2024, there is more to share and learn about where the Program is headed. Please see “Social Equity Program” below to learn more.

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The County continues development of the Socially Equitable Cannabis Program. The Program will allow new cannabis businesses to open in the unincorporated area .   The goal of the Program is to allow for safe, legal access to cannabis, grow social equity, and to stop the unlicensed market. The County aims to do this by reducing barriers to the legal marketplace for people who have been negatively or disproportionately impacted by prior cannabis criminalization. 

There are five existing cannabis businesses in the unincorporated communities of San Diego County. This is because in 2017, the County banned new cannabis businesses from opening.

New businesses will only be allowed after the Board of Supervisors adopts the Cannabis Program.

The new business types will include:

·         Retail (including onsite consumption)

·         Cultivation

·         Manufacturing

·         Distribution

·         Testing

·         Microbusiness

·         Temporary Events 


You can provide your input at any point during the development of the Cannabis Program!

How to Engage with Us:

·         Email us at with your comments

·         Subscribe to the Cannabis Program email list to receive announcements about upcoming outreach events

·         Visit our Engage San Diego County platform  to learn more about the development of the different components of the Cannabis Program 

·         Attend an upcoming outreach event 


There are currently no upcoming outreach events or public hearings.


The Cannabis Program is made of the following elements: (1) Social Equity Program, (2) Cannabis Regulatory Requirements, (3) Cannabis Licensing and Permitting System, and (4) Cannabis Taxation Program. Additionally, the County is preparing a Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to analyze and disclose the potential environmental effects of the Cannabis Program.

REV Elements

Social Equity Entrepreneurs Program

The Office of Equity and Racial Justice is leading the effort to establish the Social Equity Entrepreneurs Program. The Social Equity Entrepreneurs Program will help qualified applicants participate in the legal cannabis industry by providing different types of assistance to social equity applicants like expungement services, business and technical assistance, one-on-one coaching and mentoring and grant opportunities. The County worked with consultants to complete a  Cannabis Social Equity Assessment  in October 2022 which includes community feedback from listening sessions, interviews, focus groups, and a survey .

The Board approved the following social equity incentives at the May 1, 2024 hearing :

·         Minimum 51% social equity cannabis business ownership requirement to maintain social equity status and benefits

·         3-year head start for social equity applicants (cannabis licensing will only be open to social equity applicants for the first 3 years of the program)

·         License ceiling of 25 total storefront retail licenses

·         Minimum 50% of storefront retail licenses reserved for social equity applicants

·         Creation of the Cannabis Oversight Community Collaborative


Learn more about the Social Equity Program

Cannabis Regulatory Requirements

Planning and Development Services (PDS) is developing the local regulatory requirements for cannabis businesses. PDS is making updates to the County’s Code of Regulatory Ordinances and Zoning Ordinance. Updates to the Regulatory Code will create the requirements for running a cannabis business. This includes rules for signage, security, and licensing. Updates to the Zoning Ordinance will create the zoning regulations for a cannabis business including where they can be located and what kind of development is allowed.


Learn more about the Regulatory Requirements.

Cannabis Licensing and Permitting

PDS is developing the cannabis licensing and permitting system for cannabis businesses. The licensing and permitting system will create the structure and procedures for getting County licenses and permits for new cannabis businesses (such as which departments will review the applications and what they’ll be looking for in their reviews, the type of permits that will be needed based on the proposed business type, etc.).


Learn more about the Licensing and Permitting System.

Commercial Cannabis Taxation Program

The Commercial Cannabis Taxation Program creates the taxes that cannabis businesses must pay. The San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector is responsible for the administration and collection of cannabis tax for businesses located in unincorporated areas of the County.


View the tax rates for cannabis businesses and learn more about  Cannabis Tax Administration.

Cannabis Program EIR

PDS is developing a Program EIR to study the effects that new cannabis businesses may have on the environment. The EIR process provides several stages specifically for public input including:

·     Scoping  (providing input on the range of environmental issues to be looked at in the EIR)

·     Review and Comment (comments to the County on the adequacy of the draft CEQA document before it is certified).


Learn more about the Cannabis Program EIR.


Element Timeline Progress
Commercial Cannabis Taxation Winter 20/21 - Spring 2023 Complete
Social Equity Program Spring 2022 – Summer 2024 In development
Regulatory Requirements Spring 2022 – Summer 2025  In development
Licensing & Permitting Spring 2022 – Summer 2025  In development
Cannabis Program EIR  Fall 2023- Spring 2025
In development
Adoption of Cannabis Program Board Hearing anticipated Fall 2025
Cannabis Program Open to Applicants Anticipated Winter 25/26

*Dates subject to change

General Inquiries:

Planning & Development Services