Cannabis grows prohibited without county land-use permits

By Office of Supervisor Chuck Washington

The County of Riverside is reminding prospective cannabis growers that they must obtain land-use approvals in unincorporated areas before cultivating the plant for commercial purposes, according to a memo released a couple weeks ago.
The document, which was issued in four languages, comes amid elevated efforts by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to eradicate illegal cannabis operations in the past few months. Deputies have executed multiple search warrants, particularly in the Anza Valley, and have made dozens of arrests.
Land-use applications for legal cannabis operations are pending with the County of Riverside Transportation Land Management Agency but applicants have multiple steps to complete before any proposals come for a vote before the board of supervisors. The application period opened just months ago, and pending applicants have until Oct. 30 to submit their conditional use permit paperwork. Additional reviews and approvals will be required after that deadline, so no commercial cultivation operations or dispensaries have been approved.
Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington, whose district includes the Anza Valley, collaborated with local advocacy groups and Riverside County Counsel to draft the memo, which emphasizes the importance of obtaining both a land-use permit and valid state license before engaging in the cannabis industry. The memo was translated into Spanish, Vietnamese and Hmong.
“Illegal cannabis cultivation will not be tolerated in Riverside County, and my office has worked closely with code enforcement and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to crack down on the dangerous black-market grows in my district,” Washington said. “I am committed to addressing the public safety and quality of life problems that illegal cannabis cultivation causes.”
Sheriff Chad Bianco stressed that his department focuses its eradication efforts on large, industrial-sized cannabis operations. In a public service announcement released by his department, Bianco stated, “If you own or operate one of those grows, you can expect a visit from us.”
Residents can report suspected illegal cannabis cultivation to the Sheriff’s Department at
The memo, which summarizes the civil penalties for engaging in illegal cannabis operations, is available in all four languages — English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Hmong — here:
More information on the cannabis land-use process in Riverside County can be found online at