Cultivating Medical Marijuana in Sacramento

Spring has sprung and the time has come for everyone to plant their gardens. If you live in a residential zone in Sacramento, you most likely won’t be legally employing the sunshine to nourish your marijuana plants.

It has been totally illegal for a few years now to plant any cannabis outdoors or indoors in the County of Sacramento, This was all due to a ban passed by the County Board of Supervisors in 2010. No law prohibiting cultivation of cannabis existed in the City of Sacramento until November 2012 when the Sacramento City Council passed it’s own ban on growing marijuana outdoors. The City Council pushed it through quickly and it now exists in the form of Ordinance 2012-045.

This law states that it is illegal to grow cannabis outside, either in a residential zone or in a residential-use building. The only way to legally grow is to do it indoors by submitting a plan to the city, keep it under 400 feet, follow all the safety and lighting precautions, and then allow the city to inspect and approve it. It’s that simple! Perhaps on closer inspection, this process is far out of reach of the common Sacramentan.

So, the following is my attempt to lay out in a plain and straightforward manner the information I’ve gathered about cultivating cannabis in The City of Sacramento.

Step one: Hire an architect to draw your plans if you’re building a structure you will have to submit plans for the grow house to a public planner. If your refitting a room plans are not required but you must do it right because you will have to have it inspected..

Step two: Submit your plans to the public permit counter at 300 Richards Boulevard. Once they are approved, then you can begin construction of your new 400 square foot medicinal cannabis garden.

Indoor Cannabis grows yields one to four ounces of dried bud.

Step 3: After you’re finished, call for an inspection. The good news is it only takes a day to get the inspector out there. The lighting and electrical units will be inspected to ensure they meet all safety specifications, and a ventilation system must be in place to prevent outside odor from menacing the neighborhood.

It’s not clear if the city will be establishing a SMELL police force or just take a nosey neighbor’s word for it, but if someone claims that they smell it, you may have to shut the whole operation down. Also though it’s not clear how this will be enforced your legal grow must be done by patients with doctors recommendation

Any rumors people may have heard about the allowance of greenhouses are false. There was a push for a certain type of secure greenhouse at the council meeting, however, the current ordinance requires solid walls.

If your house is in a non-residential zone, you still can’t grow outdoors – by your living there, the house is in residential use. One could potentially concoct a way of growing on an empty lot, I suppose, in a non residential zone. That would probably require someone onsite for security. Again, far out of reach for the common patient. Imagine an elderly woman with cancer dealing with heavy pain, wanting to grow a plant for her own medicinal use. How is she supposed to deal with these regulations for a reasonable price, and just how are they consistent with the patient rights promised under Prop 215?

Meet Lana (not her real name but the conditions and numbers are very real). She is a 59-year-old cancer survivor who was a patient at a dispensary where I used to work. In 2009 she and her husband, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, grew eight plants in their backyard in the Pocket Area – four plants less than the legal limit per patient. Their grow did not bother their neighbors at all, and they were able to harvest enough medicine for the both of them for 2 years for under $800. Prior to that they were spending $500 a month on medicine from dispensaries, and this gave them each less than a gram a day. Growing their own Medicine saved these patients, on a fixed income, a total of $11,200 over a 2 year period. This was money directly put back into their pockets for food and other healthcare. Lana shared with me that she did not intend to grow this year, specifically because she did not want to get in trouble with the police.

Outdoor grows yield one to three pounds of ready cannabis buds.

This ordinance will make it much simpler for law enforcement to figure out whose grow is legal and illegal, because currently they are all illegal. I’m sure it’ll be easier to keep track of the very few patients, if any, that do file. Those patients who don’t file and are caught cultivating cannabis are subjecting themselves to misdemeanor criminal sanctions, civil actions, and administrative penalties, as well as civil penalties of $250.00 to $25,000.00 for each day the violation continues.

It does seem to be a gentrification of cannabis growing . I checked with an architect- plans would cost four to five grand to be drawn with lighting and electrical specs and professional construction would cost a few more thousand easily. Add in city fees, which I was unable to find the exact amount for (it’s apparently based on the particulars of the plans), but I was able to get confirmation that there are definitely fees, and we are approaching ten grand to create a legal cultivation spot. Now factor in the fact that indoor growing yields far way less actual medicine. Add up these numbers and you see cannabis grown legally is far more expensive than that which could be acquired at a dispensary.

So, let’s get a show of hands of how many people reading this are going to be able to grow legally in Sacramento. No one? Because that was pretty much how many people filed to grow legally according to my sources at the city.. Zero. Though the clones (baby marijuana plants) are flying off the shelves of the dispensaries locally, none of them will be grown in Sacramento – at least not legally.

I don’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist. However, it’s suspicious to me that the city manages to outlaw and overregulate ways to get cannabis as medicine ,unless you go to one of the 18 or so dispensaries and pay a four percent city tax on top of California sales tax. In Lana and her husband’s case, we are talking over $4000 per year.

If any of this bothers you, my only recommendation would be to call the Mayor and the council member from your district. You could even speak up and come into the city council meeting. But it appears the city is pretty steadfast in leaving things as they are, and we really won’t be seeing it on the agenda anytime soon.

If anyone decides to grow legally in the City of Sacramento I would love to document their process for a future article, the same goes for anyone paying fines or arrested for growing against the ordinance! Reach me on facebook as Ron Equality Mullins.

Disclosure: Medical cannabis Activist, former Dispensary Operator, Communications Chair for Safe Access Sacramento and Sacramento Supervisor of The Sacramento Stockton Modesto Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law.

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April 13, 2013 | 2:53 PM

Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. We must legalize so we can grow again. Cancer survivor, radiation survivor , surgery survivor, and baby boomer. Pain is not my friend. :(

April 23, 2013 | 9:59 AM

As long as I don’t have to smell it coming from your residence then awesome for you!

April 13, 2013 | 6:04 PM

Thank’s Ron! Great job with this story. Sometimes the new rules sound so if’y who knows what to make of anything they are making up! Jeff S……

April 14, 2013 | 11:16 AM

Consider adding your name to the petition based on science and reason to Immediately Remove Cannabis from the CSA and Single Convention Treaty at

Each signature sends an email to both Senators and House Representative of the signer along with an email to President Obama.

April 15, 2013 | 9:13 AM

Yeah, well this is the city that also banned comic shops, cruising, and palm readers to protect its citizens against “corrupting influences”. The regressive mentality of this city’s government just boggles at times.

April 15, 2013 | 2:19 PM

Expensive regulation is basically the same thing as prohibition.

April 23, 2013 | 9:56 AM

Sorry, but I live in the County of Sacramento and my neighbor grows pot every year…..he has a medical card and there is nothing that I can do about it. Pisses me off that I have to deal with the smell, etc. that comes from his yard. I could care less about this medical issues, his spouses medical issue, his friends medical issue….what about the neighbor(s)?

April 29, 2013 | 4:06 PM

So let’s all grow onions n garlic see if u like the way that smells … Ever drive thru Gilroy?

May 3, 2013 | 7:26 AM

Works for me….I would rather smell onions and garlic then pot anytime.

Avatar of gom
April 27, 2013 | 11:39 AM

dear sir or madam
so, finally the laws around Sacramento residents still regally grow or not also , if yes they around us to grow as green house or indoor or what els?
thank you for your anwsering
looking forward to hear from you
resident of Sac

June 10, 2013 | 9:50 AM

@ just annoyed … Yeah, heaven forbid someone who is suffering from traumatic chronic ailments, suffering from big pharmas chemicals and poisons, make you suffer smelling a smell you don’t like. You cry babies really expect compassion for smelling something? I have to smell exhaust every day. It makes me sick. Let’s outlaw vehicles too.

September 6, 2013 | 11:50 AM

Traumatic chronic aliments…..this list could go on and on forever for an excuse.

I am far from a cry baby, I just don’t want to have to smell my neighbors pot from inside my own house – is that okay with you?

September 27, 2013 | 2:58 PM

No it’s not okay, because maybe the smell of the roses in your garden make me nauseas. Does that make it ok for me to throw you in jail and slander your name and hit you with fines for growing a plant that brings you joy simply because I don’t approve of the smell? Maybe I’m a vegetarian and the smell of meat cooking makes me ill. So the next time you want to have a BBQ, I expect you to spend 10k+ to build a structure complete with carbon filtering to have your summertime fun in or it’s off to the jailhouse with you.

June 10, 2013 | 9:53 AM

Human beings have become so weak and ignorant. There is no logical rebuttal you can fathom that would justify the society you prefer, being more right or thoughtful of neighbors.

June 17, 2013 | 5:51 PM

I do have to agree that the smell is a issue. My wife has wanted to grow 3 plants several times and have had offers to rent 1 acre. We have declined cause we do not want to offend our nieghboors.

June 24, 2013 | 2:44 AM

I don’t get it. So is it legal to grow in the county of sacramento or not?, just not in a resedential zone? JustAnnoyed is probably my neighbor LMAO!

June 27, 2013 | 2:40 AM

yea there’s still parts of sac you can grow in. look up residential zone maps and stay out of the residential zone. A Sherriff told me he didn’t know laws have changed at all.

May 2, 2014 | 2:19 PM

I’m incensed with the entire issue. Can’t grow a plant outdoors, what the hell are we coming too???? Its another backdoor attempt to keep cannabis out of the hands of patience. The smell right, if we had little golden plantz that didn’t smell someone would have an issue. I’m not obligated to follow unjust laws. Take my life if so be it.

June 5, 2014 | 12:34 AM

“Give me weed or give me death!”

June 8, 2014 | 5:45 PM

420 Smelling?? What does it do or can harm you cry babies neighbor out there?? U dnt have to like it, it’s not like u will like everybody on this earth ask urself that? It’s not as bad as being acholic as much as I know…how come they dnt banned acholic when it’s causing drunk driving killing innocent peoples out there? acholic makes you violent but it’s okay?? I laugh my ass off I rather be on 420 n stay :) nothing bother….Ask urself that question, or is it because without acholic tax n producer won’t make money?? Marji tree is a natural plant tree, not a drug hand made!! So basically why pasted bill 420 from first place and now they wanna banned it for the people’s that do in need of use to heal their pains? Common people’s wake up, just because you people that dnt use or like it would hate prop 215….I said mind ur own business, basically have some sympathy just because it not ur feeling…..maybe you would change mind if only a love one of ur is using it as meds. How would you feel, if someone of your is using any meds, the only meds that can help out and that was taken away?? exactly you would stress to death, is that what they want….remember stress is pain….I dnt care what anybody would have to say or see in a bad way…if it was that bad it wouldn’t exist as a natural tree left that actually heal pains. Why not ban Indoor of outdoor, when it cause fire and grand of money that most people can’t afford eletric, equipment, nutrients. 3800 watts is not enough for some heavy user. Talking about the smell indoor is worst than outdoor cause it’s all clog inside the house. Were not talking about the earth is being polluted here….some strains doesn’t even smell like that….cig is even worst how come they dnt ban it since it’s kill peoples with cancer?? I feel that they should not ban outdoor grow because it’s not the causes of robbery, shooting, it’s because people wanna rob peoples themself. If someone is going to shoot someone or rob someone they would just do it cause of any reasons, not because of weed, get that straight! if that was the case they would legallize marijuanna so then no one would have to create any crimes because then marJ wouldn’t be so money power wise right? It would be worthless and great for pain users!

June 9, 2014 | 6:59 PM

If it was legal to grow in sac…..It all comes down to any body can grow a natural plant and there’s now way for the city to know every body that grows so they can tax to get there part so they make new laws and put people in jail

July 10, 2014 | 1:50 AM

Nosy neighbors are the ones who never had friends when growing up and still have no friends now. Bunch of snitches that only have code officers to talk too. Cause they get paid to listen to these idiots. If u disagree. Ur the ones that didnt and still have no friend or friends. Get a life

420 4 life
August 3, 2014 | 1:42 PM

So I spent 5 years serving my country and I cant even heal myself with a natural plant

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