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Cannabis Business

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Please see Measure Z Implementation page or refer to Vista Municipal Code Chapter 5.94.

 VMC 5.94 Medical Cannabis Dispensaries



On December 10, 2019, the City Council adopted an ordinance that allows for cannabis delivery (originating from outside Vista and from licensed medical cannabis storefront retailers in Vista).   The ordinances went into effect on January 10, 2020, enacting Vista Municipal Code Chapter 5.96.

The following are some of the rules established by VMC Chapter 5.96:

  • An individual may not deliver cannabis on behalf of a cannabis delivery service unless: (1) the cannabis delivery service has been issued a current and valid cannabis delivery service license; (2) the individual has been issued a valid and current cannabis delivery driver work permit pursuant to section 5.96.080, if making deliveries on behalf of a Vista-based delivery service; and (3) the cannabis delivery driver acts in conformity with all rules and requirements of state law, state regulations, and this chapter.
  • Cannabis deliveries shall occur only between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
  • Deliveries shall be made via a person-to person transaction at the residence of the qualified patient or that person's primary caregiver where the delivery person confirms the name and age of the customer before any release of the cannabis. Any other delivery or transaction is prohibited. The qualified patient or primary caregiver shall maintain a copy of the delivery request and make it available to law enforcement officers upon request.
  • Delivery drivers shall not transport cannabis in excess of the limits established by the state.

 VMC 5.96 Licensing of Cannabis Delivery

 Application Packet for Delivery of Cannabis in Vista



On December 10, 2019, the City Council adopted a series of ordinances that allow for testing laboratories and a limited number of distributors and manufacturers; referred to as cannabis enterprise businesses.  The ordinances went into effect on January 10, 2020, enacting Vista Municipal Code Chapter 5.98, updating Chapters 18.02 and 18.06 of the Vista Development Code, and amending uses permitted within ‘Use Area B’ of the Vista Business Park Specific Plan.

The following are some of the rules established by VMC Chapter 5.98:

  • The location of a cannabis enterprise must: (1) be within the RLI zone; (2) be authorized pursuant to a special use permit if the cannabis enterprise facility is a cannabis distributor (Type 11) or a cannabis manufacturer (Type 6); and (3) be outside a 600 hundred foot radius surrounding any day care center, youth center, or school providing instruction in kindergarten or any grades 1 through 12.
  • Cannabis enterprise licenses shall be limited as follows: (1) a maximum of two cannabis manufacturer (Type 6 or Type 7 – Manufacturer 2) licenses; and (2) a maximum of two cannabis distributor (Type 11) licenses. Limits are not imposed on the number of allowable cannabis testing laboratory licenses.
  • No person shall be employed at, or volunteer at, a cannabis enterprise facility unless the person holds a valid employee permit issued pursuant to this section. 
  • A cannabis enterprise shall utilize onsite armed and state licensed security staff twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week unless otherwise approved in writing by the Sheriff Department.

VMC 5.98 Licensing of Cannabis Testing, Distribution, and Manufacturing

Vista Business Park Specific Plan map

Application Packet for Cannabis Testing Laboratory, Distribution, and Manufacturing



In accordance with VMC Chapters 5.94, 5.96, and 5.98, individuals working in a cannabis business, including volunteers, must obtain a worker permit from the City of Vista.  Cannabis delivery drivers, originating from stores located within the City of Vista, must obtain a cannabis delivery driver permit from the City of Vista.  Applications are available, and must be submitted to, the City Clerk’s Office located on the second floor of the Civic Center (200 Civic Center Drive).  There is a $15, non-refundable, fee that must be paid at the time the application is submitted.  Applicants will receive a Live Scan request form to take to an authorized Live Scan agency for processing. Employees may not have a felony conviction in the past four years.  Once the applicant has cleared their background check, a work (or delivery driver) permit will be issued.  To verify that a work permit or delivery driver permit is valid, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at 760-643-5320.



Vista voters passed Measure AA, City Council Cannabis Business Tax, at the November 6, 2018 General Election, with 52.64% of voters voting in favor of the measure.  The measure imposes a general tax on potential future cannabis businesses to offset their community impacts by taxing marijuana cultivation at $14/square foot; and gross receipts of marijuana businesses at rates not exceeding 8% on manufacturing and distribution; 10% on medicinal retail; 12% on adult-use retail; and 3.5% on testing.  Measure AA enacted Vista Municipal Code Chapter 7.10.

The current general tax for authorized businesses is as follows:

Manufacturing: 4% of gross receipts

Distribution: 2% of gross receipts

Testing: 1% of gross receipts

Medical Retail (including delivery):  7% of gross receipts*

            *established by the passing of Measure Z, which implemented VMC Chapter 5.94

Adult-use retail (applies to deliveries made in Vista from outside businesses; adult-use storefront retail is prohibited):  6% of gross receipts

In addition to the general tax identified above, businesses must pay all other applicable local, state, and federal taxes.

 VMC 7.10 Cannabis Business Tax



“Unauthorized cannabis use” means any cannabis use other than an authorized cannabis use (Development Code §18.02.696).  “Authorized cannabis use” means a cannabis use which: 1) holds a current and valid local cannabis license, special use permit (if required by local ordinance), and a state license of its operations, facilities and premises; and 2) operates in compliance with all applicable state laws, state regulations, local ordinances, local regulations, local permits and applicable licensing or permitting conditions (Development Code §18.02.107).   Authorized uses are identified on this page and governed by the following Vista Municipal Code Chapters: 5.94, 5.96, and 5.98.  Unauthorized cannabis uses include, but are not limited to, adult use retail and commercial cultivation.

 Development Code Chapter 18.02



 California State Laws and Regulations



To receive notifications of updates to this webpage or when cannabis related items are on the City Council agenda, please email to request to be added to the email distribution list.