City expands $500 per plant penalty for illegal cannabis cultivation in non-residential locations

Working to support the legal cannabis industry and the health and safety of local neighborhoods, the Sacramento City Council on June 27 amended an existing ordinance to better enforce against illegal cannabis cultivation in commercial buildings and on vacant properties.

Currently, the City can impose administrative penalties of $500 per cannabis plant in excess of the six plants that are allowed under City code for residential properties. Following Council’s vote, this administrative penalty now applies to non-residential properties that are growing cannabis without a cultivation permit.

By replicating the same enforcement policy in non-residential locations, the City hopes to further address the issue of illegal cultivation that “undercuts and threatens the regulated cannabis marketplace for small business owners,” said Davina Smith, the City’s Cannabis Manager.

“By adopting these penalties for unpermitted activities, the City continues its commitment to having a stable and well-regulated legal cannabis business market,” she said.

The $500 per plant administrative penalty first was approved in August 2017 in response to a large volume of illegal cultivation in residential properties throughout the city.  Through the administrative penalties issued by the Sacramento Police Department’s Marijuana Compliance Team, the number of illegal residential grows has dropped significantly over the last four and a half years, officials said.

Nevertheless, illegal cultivation remains a major concern as unpermitted electrical alterations to power lights, fans and air conditioners by unpermitted growers can create fire hazards as well as other public safety and nuisance issues.

“The ordinance further clarifies where and when the legal cultivation of cannabis can occur within city limits and creates better protections for our communities,” Smith said.

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