Cannabis Business Regulations

Commercial Cannabis Operating Permits

The City of El Cerrito will be issuing a maximum of two Operating Permits for Cannabis Storefront Retail Businesses.  Delivery of cannabis to locations in El Cerrito will be permitted only by permitted storefront businesses located in El Cerrito.  No other cannabis businesses are currently permitted.  Businesses are limited to sites on San Pablo Avenue and are prohibited within 600 feet of schools, libraries, and parks (excluding the Ohlone Greenway).  Additionally, businesses are restricted to fully accessible upper floor locations within the Theater District as defined in the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan.  For detailed location requirements, please refer to the Commercial Cannabis Ordinance

Application Process

The City is currently developing application materials and a timeline for the application process for Operating Permits.  Applications will be accepted during a specified application window once the application materials are available.  The City will review all applications received during the application window and will pare the most qualified applicants prior to issuing a maximum of two Operating Permits.  Please refer to the Commercial Cannabis Ordinance for detailed application requirements.  To be notified when Cannabis Operating Permit application materials are available and of other developments in the application process, please submit your contact information here.

Commercial Cannabis Public Process

The information below reflects the past public process which was conducted regarding commercial cannabis in El Cerrito.  The El Cerrito City Council adopted the Commercial Cannabis Ordinance on December 19, 2017.  

City Council Meeting - Commercial Cannabis Ordinance

At the November 21, 2017 City Council meeting, the City Council introduced a Commercial Cannabis Ordinance based on the City Council's input from the October 3, 2017 study session.  The agenda for the meeting is available here.

City Council Study Session - October 3, 2017

On October 3, 2017 the City Council held a study session to discuss and hear public input regarding a draft of an ordinance regulating cannabis businesses in El Cerrito.  

community meeting regarding regulations for cannabis-related businesses -- SEptember 13, 2017

On September 13, 2017, the City of El Cerrito held a community meeting to receive public input regarding an update to the City’s regulations for cannabis-related businesses. 

This community meeting  provided an opportunity for interested parties to share input about Cannabis regulations in El Cerrito.  Subseqent to the meeting, staff developed a draft ordinance based on the City Council’s direction, public input, and best practices.  

Council Presentation and Possible Direction on Marijuana Regulation -- April 18, 2017

Last year, the City began a process to evaluate whether the City Council should lift and/or modify the City’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries (enacted in 2006) and ban on cultivation and delivery of marijuana (enacted in 2016).

On April 18, 2017 the City Council heard a presentation and provide direction to staff regarding regulation of marijuana in the City of El Cerrito.

Download the meeting agenda.

At the meeting, the Council was presented with a preliminary potential framework for regulation of marijuana.

Download the presentation (PDF), which includes
  • a background of regulation of marijuana in the United States
  • a summary of the recent public process related to marijuana regulation in El Cerrito
  • posed questions for the City Council for discussion of possible changes to the City’s regulation of marijuana.

Community Meeting - Fall 2016

Thank you to everyone who attended the community meeting on September 12, 2016 to provide information and give feedback.
Download the presentation
Download the notes from the group exercises
Download summary of comment cards from meeting

On December 6, 2016, staff presented an informational update to the City Council including a summary of the community meeting.

Overview of Marijuana Business Regulations


: California’s Medical Marijuana Program Act established possession limits for medical marijuana, a voluntary medical marijuana ID card program at the county level, and the right of patients to cultivate marijuana collectively. The act resulted in the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.

Licensed medical marijuana dispensaries currently operate in the nearby cities of Richmond and Berkeley, as well as elsewhere in the east bay area.


The El Cerrito City Council prohibited medical marijuana dispensaries in El Cerrito.


California’s Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) established the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation and created a State and local permitting process for medical marijuana businesses and cultivation and also regulated physician recommendations for medical marijuana.


California Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, was passed by California voters, which:
• Legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older.
• Imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation.
• Provides for industry licensing and establishes standards for marijuana products.
• Allows local regulation and taxation.

Under the new State law, as of November 9, 2016, it is legal for individuals to use and grow marijuana for personal use. However, the AUMA requires a state license to engage in commercial nonmedical marijuana activity and licensing authorities will not begin issuing licenses before January 1, 2018.

City can adopt business or land use regulations prohibiting or regulating commercial nonmedical marijuana businesses, which will be honored by the state. (State licensing authorities will not issue a license to a commercial nonmedical marijuana business if operation of the business violates a local ordinance of the jurisdiction in which the business will operate.)

Cities can ban the delivery of commercial nonmedical marijuana within their jurisdiction.

Cities can also ban commercial cultivation, personal outdoor cultivation, or retail sales of marijuana, however, this would make the city ineligible to receive state grant monies funded through the new state excise taxes established by AUMA.

Note: Marijuana use and cultivation remains illegal under federal law.