Carla B. Hass



(PLACERVILLE, CA) - On May 5, 2020, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adjust the regulations related to the cultivation of medical cannabis for personal use in the unincorporated parts of the county to six cannabis plants per residence regardless of whether it is grown for personal medicinal use or personal recreational use by adults over the age of 21.


"After years with the current regulations in place, it was time to reexamine the appropriateness and effectiveness and adjust where it makes sense," said Board Chair, Brian Veerkamp. "These new regulations reflect what we've learned since they were originally established."


The new regulations include replacing the ability to grow 200 square feet (with one medical prescription or valid medical card), 400 square feet (with two medical prescriptions or valid medical cards in certain zones), or 600 square feet (with three medical prescription or valid medical cards in certain zones) with the ability to plant up to six cannabis plants outdoors on a legal parcel without differentiating between medical or recreational cannabis in all zones except Multi-Unit Residential.  Alternatively, up to 6 plants may be grown indoors in any zone, including Multi-Unit Residential zones.  No more than 6 plants may be grown per residence indoors or outdoors at any given time and any cannabis grown under the ordinance must be exclusively for the personal use of the residents of the parcel.


Further changes include making illegal growers remediate their cultivation site to its pre-cultivation environmental state, streamlining the administrative process (e.g. steps in the process and violation amounts), allowing more time to work with property owners that have illegal cannabis being grown by renters without the knowledge of the property owners, and making satellite imagery admissible in administrative hearings. 


These changes were adopted by the Board of Supervisors due to the many large issues regarding personal medical cannabis cultivation, including:


  • The sale of personal medical cultivation plots of 200 sq. ft., 400 sq. ft., and 600 sq. ft., on the black market. The Sheriff's Office has observed an increase in the already wide spread problem of El Dorado County cannabis being sold on the black market due to the sale of cannabis purportedly grown for personal medicinal use.  This includes individuals using one doctor prescription for cannabis at multiple personal medical cultivation sites to allow for larger volumes of cannabis to sell. 
  • County staff's inability to determine if cultivation sites are legal or illegal. There was no official list or registration for staff to crosscheck to determine if a personal medical cultivation site was legal. In addition, there was no method to determine if prescriptions or medical cards were being used at multiple cultivation sites. Without the ability to clearly determine if a personal medical cultivation site was legal or illegal, staff is put in potentially dangerous situations when they arrive at a cultivation site.  These cultivation sites can be substantial in size, up to 600 sq. ft. Even with the new rules, El Dorado County will be allowing for more in outdoor personal cultivation of cannabis than a large number of its fellow California counties.  

  • The state has communicated that growing more than six plants without a commercial license is subject to criminal action. 

"These changes are meant to protect the ability of medical cannabis users to continue to have access, provide County staff a possible method to distinguish between illegal and legal cannabis cultivation, and better protect neighborhoods from the issues that large illegal cannabis cultivation create," said Veerkamp.

"Remember, when growing cannabis for personal use, only six plants outdoors is allowed on a legal parcel," he added.


As an urgency ordinance, the changes became effective immediately and enforcement will begin this grow season.


A full and complete copy of the new Ordinance is available at  Any individuals interested in growing cannabis for personal use should read the ordinance to ensure compliance with all the regulations, including setbacks, screening, and odor control.   



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