Cannabis FAQ

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What does cannabis being “legal” mean?

Under California law, adults 21 or older can buy, consume, possess, and grow cannabis up to the limits set by state law. If you are 21 or older, you can buy and possess up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of cannabis and up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. You can also plant, harvest, dry, and process up to 6 cannabis plants in your private residence or on the grounds of your residence. If you are 18 or older and have a current qualifying physician’s recommendation, a valid county-issued medical marijuana identification card, or are a Primary Caregiver as defined in Health and Safety Code Section 11362.7(d), you can possess up to 8 ounces of dried cannabis and up to 6 mature or 12 immature cannabis plants, unless the physician’s recommendation specifies a higher amount. The legality of cannabis does NOT mean that you may engage in any cannabis business without the proper city and state permits.

The cultivation, possession, sale and use of cannabis in California may remain unlawful under federal law.

May I consume cannabis in public?

No. It is illegal to use, smoke, eat or vape cannabis in public places or within 1,000 feet of a school, day care center or youth center while children are present. It is also unlawful to smoke cannabis in places where it is illegal to smoke tobacco.

Cannabis may be consumed in a private residence, unless otherwise prohibited by law. Property owners may ban the use and possession of cannabis on their privately-owned properties.

The City permits onsite consumption by adults 21 and over at some licensed cannabis businesses.

Is cannabis still illegal under federal law?

Yes. Cannabis remains a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it is illegal under federal law to possess, use, manufacture, distribute or sell cannabis.

Can I consume cannabis while driving a vehicle? Are there “open container” cannabis laws?

It is unlawful for a person to consume cannabis while driving. It is also unlawful for a person who is under the influence of cannabis to operate a vehicle.

It is unlawful for a person to possess “open containers” of cannabis -- any receptacle containing any cannabis or cannabis products which has been opened or has a seal broken, or loose cannabis flower not in a container -- while driving, unless placed in the trunk of the vehicle.

How will law enforcement determine if a driver is under the influence of cannabis?

Currently, law enforcement may conduct a sobriety test on persons suspected of driving under the influence.

The State of California is establishing an Impaired Driving Taskforce to develop policies that will address the issue of impaired driving under the influence of cannabis and shall examine the use of technology to identify drivers under the influence of cannabis.

Can I travel outside of California with cannabis?

No. It is unlawful for a person to transport cannabis across state lines, even when traveling to another state where cannabis is legal.

Where can I buy legal cannabis in the City?

You may purchase cannabis from one of the City’s permitted cannabis retailers.

Can I sell cannabis in the City?

You may only sell cannabis or engage in any other form of Commercial Cannabis Activity if you obtain a permit from the state and also from the city. Persons engaged in unlicensed commercial cannabis activity may be subject to civil and criminal enforcement actions.

What is commercial cannabis activity?

“Commercial Cannabis Activity” includes the cultivation, possession, manufacture, distribution, processing, storing, laboratory testing, packaging, labeling, transportation, delivery or sale of cannabis and cannabis products.

Are there any public health resources about cannabis in California?

Yes. The California Department of Public Health has established and launched “Let’s Talk Cannabis” a public information campaign to increase awareness about cannabis and its impacts on health.

Where do I submit a complaint about cannabis businesses in the City?

You can submit complaints and concerns about a cannabis business to the City Attorney’s office or the City’s Code Enforcement Department.

Do I need a license to sell CBD oil in the City?    

CBD oil derived from cannabis, as defined in Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code Sec 26001, may only be manufactured, distributed or sold by a person with a permit from the State and from the City.  The City does not regulate the sale of CBD oil derived from industrial hemp, as defined in Section 11018.5 of the Cal. Health and Safety Code, and no cannabis-specific City permit is required to sell it. Federal and state law may prohibit the sale of some or all forms of CBD oil derived from industrial hemp, but the City cannot advise businesses on whether they are in compliance with those laws. Please refer to the CDPH (here) for more information about CBD oil from industrial hemp.

How do I file a Public Records Request with the City? With Other Agencies?

Those seeking public records may submit a request to the City Clerk. Please try to identify the records you seek with as much specificity as possible.

You may also be able to find certain public records and licensee information on the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s website, the Department of Food & Agriculture’s website, and the Department of Public Health’s website. 

Please keep in mind that some records are exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act.

Which State of California agencies issue licenses for cannabis businesses?

The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) is responsible for licensing retailers, distributors, testing labs and microbusinesses.

The Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch, a division of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), is responsible for licensing the manufacturers of manufactured cannabis products.

CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing, a division of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), is responsible for licensing cultivators of cannabis.

Can I operate a cannabis business with only a state or City license?

No. A person must obtain a license from the both the state and the City before operating a cannabis business.

Is the City still accepting applications? What is the deadline to submit applications?

The City is still accepting applications, at this time no deadline has been set.

Where can I find the cannabis application?

Applications for cannabis-related businesses can be found on the City website under “City services / cannabis-related businesses and activities”. 

How many permits will the City be issuing?

The City has not placed a limit on the number of permits to be issued. However,   as stated in the Palm Springs Zoning Code 93.23.15 (C)(2), To prevent an over-intensive presence of cannabis uses in a particular area, there shall not be three (3) or more Cannabis Facilities within any measured distance of three thousand feet (3,000’), unless modified by City Council. Please note, the City Council has the discretion to modify this rule, and the rule does NOT apply in the following zones: C-M Commercial Manufacturing; M-1-P, Planned Research and Development Park Zone; M-1 Service/Manufacturing, M-2 Manufacturing Zone and E/I Energy Industrial Zone.

What type of cannabis businesses licenses can be applied for?

The City is permitting for both adult recreational use and commercial medical for dispensaries, cultivation, manufacturing and distribution, and testing.

Is it true that Palm Springs is allowing consumption lounges?

Yes, the City is permitting for lounges, subject to the property development standards contained in Palm Springs Zoning Code 93.23.15.

Is there a cannabis zoning map available for the public?

There is not a zoning map specific to cannabis. You can review the permitted uses for the city’s zones in the on-line zoning code at the following URL: code/chapter92

You can also obtain the development standards for cannabis related businesses in the online zoning code section 93.23.15 which includes distance to other cannabis-related sensitive uses.

Is the City issuing Microbusiness permits?

The City does not offer a microbusiness permit. However, while the City does not currently specifically reference the Microbusiness license in its regulations, an applicant can nonetheless be eligible for the state’s microbusiness license, under the provisions of Ordinance No. 1933, by receiving licensing approval from the City in each of the areas related to the proposed microbusiness at that location. For example if the City awards licenses for manufacturing, distribution, and retail at a location to an applicant, that applicant would be able to satisfy the local compliance requirements for each of the areas of commercial cannabis activity in which they would engage under the state’s microbusiness license. As such, the local compliance requirement for the underlying activities of the microbusiness application would be satisfied.

Where can a licensed cannabis businesses be located in the City?

The City’s Zoning Code specifies the zoning restrictions for each type of Commercial Cannabis Activity as well as the sensitive use and location restrictions that apply to each type of Commercial Cannabis Activity.  

Will the City tell me before I apply whether my proposed business location complies with the zoning, sensitive use and location restrictions?

Currently, the City does not provide location compliance verification for potential business locations before the submission of an application. Please refer to the City’s Zoning Code for the zoning restrictions for each type of Commercial Cannabis Activity as well as the sensitive use and location restrictions that apply to each type of Commercial Cannabis Activity.

Is the City prohibiting any types of commercial cannabis activity?

The City will not issue licenses for Type-9 non retail storefront delivery at this time.

How is cannabis taxed?

The State of California imposes a 15 percent excise tax on the purchase of medical and “Adult-Use” cannabis. Cultivators will also have to pay a tax on dry flowers ($9.25 per ounce) and dry leaves ($2.75 per ounce).

The City currently imposes the following cannabis business taxes on permitted cannabis businesses:

  • 10% gross receipts from Adult-Use Sales and Medical Sales;
  • $10.00/ per square foot of cultivation area.

Where do I submit my application for a City license?

Applications are filed at City Hall at the City Clerk’s office.

How do I find out the status of my application?

The City Attorney will notify you via email, mail or other means when it has an update to provide regarding your application.

Is there a fee to apply for a City license?

The fee for the administrative cannabis permit at $4,000. The $4,000 fee is due at the time you file your application along with a background fee of $255 for each person who is an officer, director, manager or member of an applicant company, or is identified as an owner with a 20% interest or more in the business. Please note that Conditional Use Permit, plan check, inspection fees and other departmental fees are not included in this amount. A complete list of fees related to cannabis related business and activities can be found in the City’s Comprehensive Fees Schedule. 

Is the application fee refunded if the business is denied a license?


How do I withdraw an application?

Please submit a withdrawal request to the City Attorney. If the application includes more than one owner, every owner listed on the application must sign the withdrawal form for it to be fully executed.

How does an applicant demonstrate compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?

Please refer to BCC Regulation Section 5010, CDFA Regulation Section 8102, or CDPH Regulation Section 40128 for direction on the CEQA requirements for an application for each type of Commercial Cannabis Activity.