Theses Master's

Pot Zoning: Planning for Cannabis Cultivation as a Land Use in California's Emerald Triangle

Froehlich, Daniel C.

Despite ongoing federal prohibition, American states continue to legalize the cultivation, processing, distribution, and possession of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. State-level frameworks for legalization vary greatly across the nation, including whether counties and municipalities are authorized to use their zoning and other police powers to regulate cannabis-related uses within their jurisdictions. In California--where medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 and recreational cannabis since 2016--localities are granted such authority, placing planners on the frontlines for devising land use schemes for a once prohibited activity and doing so with little guidance from higher levels of government. Cannabis cultivation has a storied history in California's Humboldt County, where it is a multibillion-dollar industry with well-documented environmental impacts. This study deploys a qualitative, multiple-case study research design to better understand how Humboldt County and three of its incorporated cities have used their zoning and land use authority under state law to regulate cannabis cultivation not only for neighborhood impacts or environmental concerns but also for other components of public health, safety, and welfare. The study reveals the innovative planning interventions these jurisdiction have deployed, which not only reflect local goals pertaining to the ever-evolving cannabis industry but also local considerations of equitable economic development.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for FroehlichDaniel_GSAPPUP_2019_Thesis.pdf FroehlichDaniel_GSAPPUP_2019_Thesis.pdf application/pdf 1.28 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
O'Neill-Hutson, Moira K.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 10, 2019